Upham's Corner Online

Snow Removal - Upham's Corner 1/14/2011

Posted: 1/21/2011    Nancy J Conrad

Snow removal supports two types of traffic - vehicular and pedestrian.

After a snowfall, we expect the City to plow and salt the streets in due haste.  Snow emergencies are declared well in advance of the storm to facilitate this work. Boston engages an army of snow plows and salt depots to get the streets cleaned in record time. Street snow removal is carried out by snowplows that sweep the snow away from the center of the street to the sides. Salt and sand trucks follow to add traction.

Progress is measured by how long it takes buses and trains to be fully operational and when cars can travel again . We listen for the announcement that all is clear:

"I93, Route 128, the Mass Pike and all major arteries are clear. The MBTA reports that all buses and trains are operating on time."
Summary & Overview
January 12, 2011 Snowstorm
Chief Mackan Interview
Snow Removal Issues
Boston Not Pedestrian Friendly
Snow removal ordinance # 16-12.16 defines what is required of businesses and property owners. The ordinance mandates a minimum width and a timeframe of 3 to 6 hours depending on various factors. It also states penalties for noncompliance.

The City of Boston is responsible for walkways around public property such as parks and cemeteries.   he Wall handles the bus shelters. No one is responsible for "open air" bus stops, not the City and not the MBTA.  There are no service-level agreements covering the City of Boston or The Wall.

For residents and businesses, the snow removal process is a begrudging activity, especially if the snow is heavy. It's backbreaking work and we may have to pay someone to help. It's tiresome work and it never seems to end especially if you have to shovel a 42 inch wide swath!

Code Enforcement handles complaints but if the load is high, they may not be able to ticket before the snow disappears. For the most part pedestrians in our business districts do their best to get around and eventually the snow melts.

Unlike clearing snow from the streets, sidewalk snow removal is not monitored, measured or reported on. But imagine hearing the following:

"All sidewalks in Downtown Crossing, on Beacon Hill, in the Financial District, in Dorchester and Allston are clear including ADA access ramps and crosswalks."
Snow Removal Issues 1/14/2011January 12, 2011 Snowstorm

On Wednesday, January 12, 2011, a nor'easter dumped approximately 16 inches of snow in the greater Boston area. Most businesses were closed and the roads were empty except for work crews and a few emergency vehicles. Snowplows worked all day to clear the streets and the next day people returned to work, cars back on the road.

For pedestrians the progress was slower.   By the end of the day Wednesday, some residents and businesses had begun to clear the sidewalks.  Additional shoveling took place on Thursday and Friday.

Two days later (1/14/11) Upham's Corner News looked at the vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow in the business district - Dudley St, Columbia Rd and nearby residential areas.

Vehicular traffic was moving easily with no problems - bicycles, cars, trucks and buses.
By comparison pedestrians were having a lot of problems getting around.
  • A woman pushing a stroller with the child had  difficulty moving through a narrow opening between the sidewalk and street
  • A man was struggling to lift another man in a wheelchair up onto the sidewalk. The handicap ramp was nowhere in sight.
  • A delivery man struggled to move his cargo dolly through a narrow opening between the street and sidewalk to deliver product to a restaurant.
  • People were waiting at the bus stop next to Payless Shoe Store. When the bus arrived, they had to walk through a very narrow opening in the embankment to get out into the street to board the bus.  
  • A woman attempting to walk through an unplowed crosswalk fell down.
While most of the businesses had cleared at least a minimal pathway, about half of the shoveled areas were not wide enough (less than 42 inches). Many of the sidewalks had residual ice and snow and some sidewalks had not yet been plowed including bus stops and crosswalks.

At least half of the homeowners are not in compliance.

Businesses and commercial buildings are doing a poor job of complying with the snow removal ordinance and this is the group that has a greater impact on pedestrian traffic.

Following are some of the issues we identified in the Upham's Corner business district:   Also see photos
  1. Rainbow Fashions - 745 Dudley Street
    Sidewalk in front not shoveled and very narrow.  Also right side of building going up Virginia Street not shoveled

  2. Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus - 763 Dudley Street - rear parking lot
    After cleaning out their parking lot, their snowplow blocked both sides of the sidewalk making it fully impassable

  3. CVS - 778 Dudley Street
    Residual ice and snow on the sidewalk in front.  Ramsey Street sidewalk leading down to parking lot not cleared properly

  4. 600 Columbia Rd. - sidewalk in rear (Ramsey Street) not shoveled

  5. 17 Ramsey Street - sidewalk not shoveled

  6. 99 Cent State - 770 Dudley Street - Belden Street sidewalk not shoveled properly

  7. MBTA bus stop -Columbia Road at Payless shoe store - no shoveling done

  8. Crosswalk at Davern Columbia Rd not cleared

  9. Fire hydrant in front of Foot Locker buried in snow

  10. "The Wall" at Columbia Rd and Stoughton St not cleared out

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