If a city leaf truck or sweeper made an unexpected pass down your street last week, don't fret - you haven't missed the last pickup of the season.
David Welch, the city's commissioner of streets, bridges, and harbor, said he decided to deviate from posted leaf-collection schedules to tackle large leaf piles that would have become major problems had Toledo received a significant snowfall before temperatures plunged last weekend.
"We had some streets that were down to one lane because of the leaves," the streets commissioner said yesterday. "If it snowed on top of that, then we'd have the plows pushing back into yards, or down the street. It would have been a mess."
By contrast, he said, yesterday's rainfall was perfectly fine for leaf collection, even if it created less-than-ideal conditions for those doing the work.
"It's just something you live with. The guys with the blowers and the rakers are all in their rain gear," said Mark Marzec, a streets division su-perintendent accompanying a crew on Clifton Road yesterday.
Rain "keeps the mess down" because the leaves stick together, whereas dry leaves are more prone to crumbling if they've been out awhile, Mr. Welch said.
The most important element to keep leaf-pickup moving, he added, is warmth, because once the temperature goes below freezing, street sweepers become ineffective.
Last week's unscheduled leaf pickups prompted a few anguished calls from residents worried about what to do with unraked leaves in their yards, Mr. Welch said. But a full "second pass" through most of West Toledo and South Toledo that have the city's heaviest concentrations of trees will be made starting next week, he said.
As of yesterday, the city's five loader crews and 14 street sweepers were working along curbed streets in the 43602, 43607, 43609, and 43611 ZIP code areas and along uncurbed streets in the 43606, 43611, and 43612 ZIP code areas.
As pickup progresses, they are to move on to the uncurbed streets in 43602, 43604, 43607, and 43609, and to all streets in the 43605, 43608, 43610, and 43620 postal zones.
"We still have a couple of districts to hit," Mr. Welch said. But when the official second pass begins in West Toledo and South Toledo, he said, "we should be able to fly through those" because most leaves have already been picked up in those areas.
Toledo's leaf-collection schedule is posted on the city Web site, toledo.oh.gov, as are maps showing the streets where collection has been completed.