So much snow. So little room. Time for a snow party?
Snow 'farms', snow melters, and even a 'snow party' in Boston Harbor: Cities and businesses come up with various solutions as they struggle to remove growing mounds of snow.
Even as thousands of snow-weary communities dug themselves out of this week’s epic 30-state storm and braced for more snow and sleet starting Friday, they faced another problem:Skip to next paragraph
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How will they deal with the stuff?
In the Midwest and the Northeast especially, cities and businesses are running out of room to plow the snow. Instead, they’re having to load it on trucks and haul it away. That’s not only time-consuming, it’s expensive and comes at a time when businesses, and especially local governments, are already under budgetary strain.
So they're looking for novel ways to handle the growing mounds of snow. For example:
•Chicago, hit with the third-largest snow storm in its history, supplemented its monster fleet of more than 500 plows with snow melters to deal with the 2-1/2 feet of snow that fell. The city joined New York City, whose 36 melters have been running nonstop since the snow began falling there.
•In anticipation of the latest storm, Boston last weekend reportedly hauled more than 37,000 tons of snow from streets and neighborhoods and put it into designated dumping areas. The city’s six so-called “snow farms” are nearly filled to capacity, so it has just opened a new one – its biggest yet – an entire acre in South Boston.
One local state senator has even called for a Boston “snow party,” dumping accumulated snow into Boston Harbor much like the famous tea that was heaved overboard more than two centuries ago.
Well, maybe that's too creative. Federal environmental laws prohibit dumping snow into waterways because of the accompanying salt, motor oil, and other pollutants. Authorities opened an investigation when a private contractor was caught on a surveillance camera overnight Sunday dumping 42 truckloads of snow into the Merrimack River in Lawrence, Mass.
The problem this winter isn’t just big snowfalls. It’s that there’s been little melt in-between them, which usually reduces the snow mounds.
With 60 inches of snow already on the ground, its usual total for the entire winter, Minneapolis blew through its 2010 snow budget by several hundred thousand dollars and has put a sizable dent into its 2011 budget. The excess spending is largely due to the extra expense of using front-loaders and dump trucks to remove the heavy accumulation of snow, says Mike Kennedy, director of transportation maintenance and repair for the Minneapolis Department of Public Works.