Sunday, February 08, 2015

When you have no place to put the snow

I'm not a DPW guy, so these are just some ideas for municipal officials in eastern Massachusetts who've run out of room for where to put the snow.  (Yes, I'm a water guy, but the water I dealt with was in pipes!)  By the way, I've heard from at least one university administrator who's also said that he's run of snow storage space on campus.

I've already talked about dumping snow in the Harbor.  This would immediately create more locally situated venues for disposal, reducing truck route distances, and also eliminate the need for staff to spend hours (and energy) melting snow at the "snow farms."  I'm sure the state environmental officials would allow this on an emergency basis, as they have already in at least one case.

Beyond that, you can use parking garages and surface lots (public and private) to stage neighborhood street cleanups.  You announce that cars can move there at an allotted time while snow removal equipment trucks remove snow from the streets, especially large, dangerous snow banks.

You can use a lane of main streets for swing space parking (like they do for funerals) for neighborhood snow removal.  Cars can park on the main street while their street is being plowed properly.

Beyond that, you can get creative, like using campaign style neighborhood snow brigades to make sure hydrants are shoveled out, sidewalks are passable, crosswalks are clear, etc.

Meanwhile on the human services side of things, let's draw on the high-tech and Internet resources of the area.  For frail elders, let's install Nests or other remote reading thermostats in their homes so that their heat can be monitored and their air tested for carbon monoxide.  I bet Google would donate a few thousand.  For food delivery, let's recruit Peapod-like services.

In short, its time to redefine the role of the "urban mechanic" to the new era.


Stephen H. Owades said...

From Facebook:

Cambridge opens several parking garages to cars with resident permits when a snow emergency is declared, so they can be taken off the streets for plowing and snow removal.

Anonymous said...

Any place close to the water should throw snow there as you suggested.

This is enough of an emergency that snow should be put in parks, like Cambridge common. Build some big sledding hills for the kids.....

most cities and towns have a park or parks get creative....

Marijke Vroomen Durning said...

From Facebook:

Montreal introduced a new app this year, a trial in some boroughs. You are notified when there will be snow clearing on your street - a warning before the no parking period begins and then a warning just before the snow clearing begins. So far, it's been pretty decent.