The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Where does the snow go?
Cities use dumping grounds


You might not have a solution for where to put all the snow that’s piled up along your driveway, but local cities have their own “snow dumps” for the excess snow that builds up along roads and sidewalks after storms.

Concord General Services Director Chip Chesley said Concord leases a privately owned, 7-acre industrial site with a gravel surface, where it hauls snow from downtown and dumps it. The narrower the streets become, the more snow will be hauled there as the storms keep coming, Chesley said.
“In reading ... about Massachusetts communities running out of space, we are pretty fortunate,” Chesley said.
Concord maintains about 220 miles of streets, which is the distance from Concord to Bangor, Maine, as well as about 90 miles of sidewalk, which is about the distance from Concord to Gillette Stadium, Chesley said.
For snow removal of the downtown area, the city implements a parking ban. Crews will come in around midnight to take the snow that’s pushed up against the curb and move it to the center of the street. A large snowblower, about 8 to 10 feet in diameter, Chesley said, will blow the snow into dump trucks to be hauled off to the snow dump.
During snow events, crews work continuously over two shifts. The first shift works 16 hours, then takes 8 hours off. The second shift tends to be people with other full-time jobs who come in for 8 hours of plowing to give the full-timers respite. After working continuously through a snow event, crews back off on the labor as the sun shines, Chesley said.
“We just rely on the sun to melt it; we don’t rely on mechanical processes,” Chesley said.
Manchester Public Works Chief of Street Operations Jay Davini said the Queen City has various types of snow removal for its 400 miles of streets. Recently the effort has been to increase the width of the streets by taking large snowblowers down the streets and blowing the white stuff into dump trucks, which is then hauled off to the old landfill on Dunbarton Road.
The city maintains 144 miles of sidewalk with snow-blower-like tractors blowing snow into snowbanks. 
“Our challenge is, the guys clearing the sidewalks are the same guys plowing the streets. It’s tough. It’s tough balancing resources,” Davini said.
He said those same people are the ones hauling it away, and trucks need to have the plows removed to haul the snow, calling it a “delicate balance.” The back-to-back storms have made this season especially challenging, Davini said.
“In order for us to remove snow, we have to have a fairly clear forecast for the next several days,” he said.
When needed, and when time and weather allow, the city performs major snow removal operations, such as that on Elm Street, Davini said. These operations are carried out, like Concord, in the middle of the night, when most businesses are closed, Davini said.
“That’s a full blown operation with graders, loaders and bobcats, and again, the large blowers,” he said.
Along with storms coming so close together, the low temperatures have been a challenge. The snow hasn’t been melting on its own, and salt is basically ineffective, Davini said.
The benefit of bringing the snow to a landfill, is it can be left there to melt, Davini said.
“Without that, any other removal operations would involve the snow melter. That’s expensive, that’s time consuming, and in itself, an operation,” he said.
Nashua’s Director of Public Works Lisa Fauteux said the storms have kept the city busy with projects other than removing plowed snow.
“We haven’t removed much snow yet; we’ve been busy plowing and shoveling sidewalks,” she said. 
Nashua currently clears 50 out of the 214 miles of sidewalk, and 303 miles of streets.
A few areas the city does focus on to remove snow are the busy spots — for example, where children walk to schools or where sight lines may be obstructed.
Nashua has two main snow dumping sites, a parking lot on Stadium Drive and a site on Crown Street, Fauteux said.
For snow removal in Nashua, a big snowblower and loaders are used to remove snow and load it into 6 and 10-wheelers, with the same staff performing the work. More snow removal is planned in the coming weeks, Fauteux said. 
As seen in the February 19, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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