See more of the story

Days after a mid-January storm dumped snow across the Twin Cities, St. Paul resident Aaron Rolloff put his trash and recycling bins out on the curb as usual.

He couldn't believe what happened next: A snowplow came speeding down the street without stopping, running over his recycling bin and cracking the lid. Rolloff and his neighbors on Montana Avenue spent the rest of the morning picking their trash up off the street.

"This was deliberate destruction," Rolloff said.

It was not an isolated incident. Many St. Paul residents have had their trash and recycling bins knocked over by city plows during the last two months, as growing snow piles have narrowed streets and created headaches for both plow drivers and residents. Security camera and Ring Doorbell camera footage taken on Dec. 22 and Jan. 20 shows St. Paul snowplows barreling down bins on the side of the road, flinging trash across the street.

After Jan. 20, the St. Paul Department of Public Works announced that it is conducting an internal investigation into the incidents.

"I share residents' frustration and anger about what happened," Public Works Director Sean Kershaw said in a statement on Jan 22. "We will be working with our staff and immediately investigating this situation."

The battle for space comes during a winter that has seen historic levels of snow. Earlier this month, Minnesota experienced its 14th-largest snowfall on record, according to the Department of Natural Resources. This winter's total snowfall to date has already surpassed the state average for the entire winter.

During winter storm warnings, St. Paul officials ask residents not to put their trash bins in the street — but that becomes difficult when large amounts of snow mean there's no other place to set them.

"It's been a hard winter for plow drivers and residents," District 10 Como Community Council President Jenne Nelson said. "No one is extremely angry, but it might be helpful for the city to create better communications with residents."

Nick Crudo, a Public Works supervisor, says it has been an extremely difficult winter for plow drivers, between workforce shortages and frequent storms. Some of the largest barriers drivers face on the job are parked cars and traffic.

"If people just realize we're plowing and they move their car, it would be much better for everybody," Crudo said. "They'd like the end result, we'd save money, time and all the resources."

In his 25 years at the department, Crudo has held every position imaginable, from driver to supervisor. Maneuvering a plow down narrow streets on Monday morning, Crudo carefully scraped the ice-covered pavement as cars impatiently zoomed around him.

As he drove, he explained how residents express frustration that plow drivers don't adequately clear the roads. But between keeping up with the snowfall and responding to resident complaints about street maintenance, plow drivers complete as much work as they can in a day, he said. During the early January snowstorm, St. Paul plows were out for 90 consecutive hours, some drivers pulling 20-hour shifts, according to Crudo.

"I know the people back there, they take pride in their work," he said once he'd returned to the office, gesturing to the main staff room. "They want to do a good job."