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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.

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Even bigger snow-removal problems lie in the Northeast, where older cities with narrow streets have less open space to put the snow, says Mr. Kennedy, who is also a member of the American Public Works Association, based in Washington, D.C.

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In Providence, R.I., which had more than 30 inches of snow last month alone, snow piles have reportedly narrowed some streets by four feet or more, forcing six bus routes to make detours to avoid clogged streets.

Business owners are also paying a pretty penny to haul away snow that has overwhelmed their parking areas.

“It’s a pretty ridiculous equation when you take something that falls from the sky and load up trucks with it and haul it somewhere,” says Ben Reng, director of account management for Integrated Building Maintenance, a Draper, Utah, company that provides snow-removal and other services to as many as 1,000 locations across the United States. “New York is a real challenge right now.”

Typically, private snow-removal contracts don’t include hauling away and dumping snow. It requires far larger equipment – front-end loaders and dump trucks – that cost much more to operate than a pickup truck with a plow. Instead, it’s an add-on to the contract, Mr. Reng says, and the cost per hour can be three times as much as just plowing the snow.

Prices can go even higher when large snowstorms hit because demand for the equipment skyrockets and land has to be leased for the dumped snow. But businesses will still pay for it, Reng adds. “As expensive as it is, it tends to be nowhere near as expensive as a lost customer.”

Equipment expenses tend to be less onerous for municipalities, at least those fortunate enough to have front-end loaders and dump trucks to handle the snow and empty city property where it can be dumped. But this winter, cities are running out of space.

For the first time in his two decades with the city of Minneapolis, Kennedy says his snow-dumping area is likely to fill up. He is scouting for another place.

Somerville, Mass., which ran out of space to put snow, found a real estate company that agreed to allow one of its vacant properties to be used as a snow farm. But “it’s getting trickier,” says Michael Meehan, the city’s director of communications. Somerville is already New England’s most densely populated city. “As time goes on, those open spaces – there’s fewer and fewer.”

– Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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