Snow Operations Update: Jan. 6 at 4:15 p.m.

Snow Operations Update Jan. 6, 3:30 p.m.:

From start to finish, this has been a particularly difficult storm. Crews began prepping roads and plowing during the early a.m. on Thursday in advance of the snow and have been working 16- to 40-hour shifts since. Nonetheless, during the storm, they struggled to keep up with extraordinary snowfall rates of 1-3 inches per hour. Whiteout conditions during peak snowfall required crews to be pulled off routes during critical periods to protect both their and public safety.  All combined, these challenging factors made clearing the roads to our usual standards very difficult, and the post-storm cleanup has been equally problematic due to the excessive cold and the snow banks that built up during the whiteout periods.

Currently, single-digit temperatures are causing the diesel fuel in both City and contractor equipment to gel causing significant truck and equipment failures. DPW is working to call in additional contractors with functioning vehicles and some reinforcements are on the way, but we are well below normal equipment levels due to the extreme conditions. We’re also taking every measure to keep shoveling and other crews warm, which is greatly slowing work due to the absolute necessity for frequent warming breaks to prevent frostbite.

That said, areas currently being prioritized are as noted below. Additional work also continues elsewhere, such as efforts to clear park areas, bike paths, and bike lanes, and the fact that it is not listed does not mean it is not taking place:

Please note that this is the current plan and equipment failure, weather conditions, emergencies, and other unforeseen circumstances may require adjustments:

  • School lots, walks, and pickup and drop-off areas: We are working to ensure schools are ready to open Monday. As of 2 p.m., roughly half are were done. All will be clear by sometime on Sunday. This work is advancing much more slowly than anticipated. We had hoped to quickly clear lots so that residents could return to park over the weekend, but conditions have slowed our efforts. Any cleared lots are open weekends through 7 a.m. Monday, and then again on weekdays overnight from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.  each night.
  • Main roads and business districts: Crews are working to continue to do additional cleanup on the mains and in business districts. Ball and Magoun Squares will be the focus tonight. Davis Square work is scheduled to begin early Sunday. Union Square and more will follow.
  • Handicapped ramps and bus stops: Shoveling crews are working on these all day today and tomorrow and will continue until complete.
  • Extended pathways to schools: DPW is working to clear crosswalks, walkways, etc. along school routes abutting all of our schools.
  • Side streets, emergency vehicle access: Fire and Police are actively checking on side streets to identify any plowing needs to preserve emergency vehicle access and safe passage as well as to identify critical needs to address intersections. Crews are being dispatched to these side streets as a priority. Widening requests for even-side parking needs are being documented by 311, but crews are currently not able to prioritize parking requests.
  • Sidewalks: DPW is out in our Bobcats working on walkways primarily in school access zones and in high-foot-traffic areas such as in business districts. Again, we rely on property owners to clear their abutting walkways.