Snow emergency route teems with tow trucks Tuesday

Emily Kron's Toyota Rav 4 was next in line on Maxwell Street to be swept up by a swarm of tow trucks Tuesday when she arrived to rescue it.

"Are you towing all of them?" she asked Bluegrass Towing Service manager Marty Hoover, who was supervising the vehicle deportation from Maxwell, one of Lexington's designated snow emergency routes.

Indeed they were, he said. "So you better move it fast."

Because Mayor Jim Newberry issued a snow emergency order Monday, cars parked along snow emergency routes had to be moved by 10 that night.

More than 12 hours later, the city directed Bluegrass Towing to remove the cars — many of them owned by University of Kentucky students who live off campus and hadn't gotten the message.

First, tow truck drivers and Lexington police knocked on doors of apartments and houses along Maxwell to notify residents that any cars still on the street were about to be taken away. The city also asked UK Tuesday morning to notify faculty and students on a parking e-mail list about the snow emergency policy.

Kron, a UK senior from Louisville, said she didn't know about the emergency order and found out from a friend who lived nearby and noticed the tow truck's flashing lights.

Former UK baseball player Antone DeJesus, who returned to Lexington to train during the winter with other former Bat Cats who have turned pro, reached his car in the nick of time as well.

More than half a dozen tow trucks had already cleared all the cars on Maxwell from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Rose Street when he arrived.

DeJesus said he saw on the news that the city would tow along snow routes, but he didn't know Maxwell was one until he looked out the window of the house where he's staying.

"Luckily, I got out here before they got it," he said as he scraped off the window so he could drive to another friend's house.

Jonathan Miller, a UK junior majoring in music and pre-med, wasn't so lucky.

He was riding his bike back to his apartment on Lyndhurst Place shortly after noon to pick up his viola for his next class when he saw that the normally car-lined street was bare.

"I think they just got me," he said, nodding toward the car-shaped place in the snow where his Nissan Sentra had been. "It couldn't have been more than 10 or 15 minutes ago."

His was among 21 cars Bluegrass Towing picked up on Maxwell, said Andy Alphin, the towing company's president.

In all, 47 cars were towed in Lexington for remaining on emergency routes, which is "a small number compared to the number of cars on the streets" initially, said Susan Straub, Newberry's spokeswoman.

Those whose cars were towed had to pay a charge of at least $75 plus a $15 parking-ticket fee to the city. And if the owners don't retrieve their cars from Bluegrass Towing's lot at 1001 Manchester Street within 24 hours, they'll be charged an additional $30.

Miller said he'd consider paying that extra day's cost.

"Where am I supposed to park it now?" he said. "Parking is such a pain around here anyway. They need to put car hangers in the trees or something."

Students and employees can purchase a one-day pass from the UK parking office to park at Commonwealth Stadium or at the parking structures next to Kennedy Book Store and on Sports Center Drive.

Miller said getting towed put the damper on what otherwise would have been a fun winter day.

"Normally, I like snow days. I like sledding. I like riding my bike around in it," he said with exasperation in his voice.

And without a car, that's what he would have to settle for Tuesday.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader