Mayor Nutter called an end to the city's snow emergency at a City Hall news conference this afternoon, and announced that all courts, city offices and facilities would be open for business as usual tomorrow.
Though he acknowledged that many roads have yet to be fully cleared, Nutter predicted that the city would be almost completely back on its feet tomorrow, and he encouraged residents and Valentine's visitors to patronize city businesses this weekend.
As an inducement to potentially wary out-of-towners, Nutter announced that SEPTA will slash fares this weekend, and that the Philadelphia Parking Authority will offer reduced rates at its garages and free street parking through Tuesday. Nutter said the city's merchants had been battered by the brutal series of storms.
"All of this is designed to encourage people to come out, to go shopping, to go to restaurants, to go to museums, to go to our commercial corridors," Nutter said at a City Hall news conference. "Basically it's an effort to generate economic activity, to get people out of their houses, they've been stuck in their houses for far too long, and we want them to get out and spend some money."
Philadelphia officials said they had not yet calculated just how many miles of city roads had been cleared, but they estimated it was well over 1,000. There are over 2,500 total miles of roadway in the city.
But they said all major arteries are passable, if not pristine. And indeed, many of the city's largest roads were all but totally free of snow and ice. Over 600 city employees operating about 510 trucks and other vehicles have been working 12-plus hour shifts since the first storm struck last weekend.
The cost of that response is not yet known, but the city's response to December's big snowfall, which was dwarfed by this week's combined storms, was $3.5 million. The city can ill-afford the expense, but Nutter yesterday said that when public safety is in question government has to respond, despite the cost.
"There are some things that you have to do. You know when you have these major incidents like this, we're mindful of the fiscal impact, we know it costs something, but when you have public safety issues you do what you have to do," Nutter said.