Some Residents Critical Of Boston’s Snow Removal Effort

A line of snow removal equipment sits along Martin Luther King Boulevard Tuesday afternoon. (Delores Handy/WBUR)

A line of snow removal equipment sits along Martin Luther King Boulevard Tuesday afternoon. (Delores Handy/WBUR)

BOSTON — After being shut down for several days due to impassable city streets, schools reopened in Boston Wednesday following the weekend’s snowstorm.

Across the city Tuesday, residents were out with their own plows, removing snow to make it easier to walk and to park. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said that while all city streets had been plowed, he’s frustrated with the city’s response and thanked residents for their patience.

“It’s taken too long and I want to make sure that the next time we have a snowstorm in the city of Boston it doesn’t take that long,” he said. “I’m a very critical person when it comes to snow removal and I’ve made my departments hear about it. I expect more out of them.”

The city deployed an armada of snow plows and dump trucks to clear streets. Private contractors were hired and extra equipment was brought in from MEMA and Massport. Snow was hauled away by the truckload to so-called snow farms — vacant lots transformed into mountains of snow. Still, days after the storm snow was piled high along streets and sidewalks, narrowing roadways and blocking sight lines for pedestrians and motorists.

“We’re playing catch up. Some of it was done very well. There were some side streets and dead end streets that we could have done a better job on and we will do a better job in the next snowstorm,” Menino said. “As of right now, every street in the city of Boston has been hit by our plows.”

In Roxbury, where snow mounds lining streets were so high that MBTA buses were stopping in the middle street to pick up passengers, a group of residents, including Humboldt Avenue resident Gene Roberts, complained about a line of plows parked along Martin Luther King Boulevard Tuesday afternoon.

“I seen these guys out here since early this morning. They haven’t did anything. There was two of them on this side just sitting here,” Roberts said. “I seen the guys on the telephone, they’re not doing anything. They figure they can kill some time, had a cup of coffee and everything else, right, and now they disappear. It’s going on noon time.”

When asked about the idle equipment, Menino cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

“Maybe they’re just lining up there to go into a neighborhood and just clean it up all at one time,” he said. “It’s easy to criticize those snow plow drivers. They’re working 12 to 16 hours.”

Still, the mayor is asking for a complete review of the system going forward. The city will go over data from GPS devices to help determine whether plow operators carried out their contracts. He wants a better system put in place for better results in the future.

With the end of the snow emergency parking ban Tuesday night, it’s back to school Wednesday for students like Kaleace Dunton, a first grader at the Greenwood School in Dorchester, who was out shopping with her father. She says the storm meant good news and bad news for her.

“The good news is that I can hang out with my dad,” Kaleace said.

And the bad news is that she missed her teacher, so she’s looking forward to getting back into the classroom Wednesday.

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  • SouthEndGuy

    Boston does NOT practice snow removal – rather just snow push it around a bit and wait for whoever gave us the snow to now take care of the removal. Go visit Burlington VT or Montreal or Ottawa to see what true “snow removal” looks like. In Ottawa, the first removal efforts are by a fleet of small vehicles to push the sidewalk snow INTO the streets. Then an armada of combine-like machinery comes along and lifts it into trucks for disposal. Voila!

    • Flying Goat

      I don’t think that works when you have parking lanes. There’s a line of cars in the way.

      • molerx

        So those “weather emergency” parking tickets are just an opportunity for a quick buck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thelma.l.williams.3 Thelma L Williams


  • Kgripen

    I’ve lived in Boston since 1981 and have had an opportunity to
    observe snow removal operations for some time.
    All things considered, I thought the snow removal effort was not too
    bad. Certainly, in places like Maine
    and Vermont, with their lower population and density, it is much easier to move
    large volumes of snow – residents of these areas also move a lot of snow on their
    own (my 82 year old father-in-law up in Bethel, ME won’t let me use his snow-blower
    he enjoys using it – and complaining about it – so much…). One large loader carved out a path on my
    street in Forest Hills late Sunday morning – after it passed through, all of my
    neighbors dug out the ends of their driveways and that was that.

  • Fire_Mumbles

    mayor 4 life sez we’ll do better next time…

  • Eric Herot

    The city’s snow removal techniques are at odds with the mayor’s stated goal of making Boston a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly city. Snow plows and bulldozers were busy Sunday and Monday hauling snow away from roadsides and depositing it RIGHT on top of sidewalk curb cutouts. And although it goes unmentioned in the article (naturally) as you can see right in the above picture, there are still lots of cars parked in bike lanes all over the city. The city should have taken the opportunity when the parking ban was still in effect to plow these main roads back to the curbs so that cars would not have to do this.

  • molerx

    I got a “weather emergency” parking ticket (45$) in 2 hours zone, on Monday, while doing shopping and having a hair cut. There was no emergency in their effort to clean the streets. Intersections were full of water due to rain and melting snow, it was impossible to cross the street. I guess it easier to write a ticket and earn their paycheck that way. Shame on you Menino & Co.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003688612019 Michael Richards

    Same story in Medford. City vehicles with guys driving up and down the street, cigs hanging from their mouth, not plowing a thing, just driving around, most likely on the government payroll. Our street is still lined with snow (now dirty ice) mounds 4 feet wide and 5 feet high, which is a danger to everyone. The other day the city dropped leaflets at everyone’s door to threaten them with fines for not clearing the sidewalk (which is owned by the city, I might add). Never mind that they’ve failed to remove snow from the gutters or tried to help the elderly or handicapped in any way, who couldn’t possibly clean up after this last storm. It’s sad.

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