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Swiftly sinking snow removal budgets, and a look at road work

Posted by Nichole Davis  February 22, 2013 05:57 PM

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As we look forward to yet another significant winter storm (the third in three weeks), worries are high in many towns about whether the cost of cleaning up of these storms will be able to be kept under budget. In the city of Boston, the Herald reports that likely won't be the case, as $14 million of the city's $17.8 million snow budget was spent just on the blizzard two weeks ago.

Now, if you add in the previous storms that have had to be taken care of, apparently the city has just about one million dollars left - give or take a few thousand bucks - to plow for the rest of the winter. Of course, they're not going to just stop treating the roads - as one of the many city residents who had enough trouble getting home during the blizzard, I really hope that's not the case. Meredith Weenick, a finance official for Mayor Menino, confirms to the Herald that the crews will plow on (at least for the coming storm this weekend):

“We will overspend that budget to the extent necessary to take care of the storm,” Weenick said.

The good news, according to the Globe, is that the city has some surplus accounts to draw from. But, of course, Boston's not the only city statewide having to deal with such an issue. With this February already being one of the snowiest on record (especially after this weekend), there are some cities that blew through their budgets weeks ago - Somerville, Lowell, Brockton, Andover, Winchester, Braintree, Chicopee, Fitchburg and Everett are just a few of the cities and towns statewide that have either come pretty close or just went right over their plowing budgets.

The joy (?) of living in New England, to some, is that you can never really tell what the weather's going to be like. As that old saying goes, "If you don't like the weather in New England, wait fifteen minutes." Last year, we had a relatively minor pattern and saw next to no snow. Same the year before. Now, not so much. If we stay in this weather pattern, those struggling cities are all wondering where the money's going to come from (certainly not trees, which aren't blooming much this time of year anyway). From the Globe:

“Most communities have pretty much exhausted the snow removal budget, and are looking with trepidation at the rest of the winter,” said Geoff Beckwith, who directs the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “The timing of the storms has been problematic.”

I'd say.

Even the state's budgets are pretty much toast, as WWLP reports. This year, MassDOT had budgeted about $45 million for snow cleanup. Now, with 30+ inches on the ground in some areas of the state, that number's likely bit the dust. According to the DOT, they estimate about $1 million for cleanup of each inch that falls, but that rule can vary. State Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg told WWLP:

“We know that the state is over because of the big storms that we’ve had... They may find themselves short and in the past when that’s happened they have come to the Legislature and sometimes we’ve been able to provide some supplemental funding.”

It's not positive if this weekend's storm, which could drop between one and eleven inches depending where you are statewide according to Meteorologist Dave Epstein, will prompt a snow emergency or anything similar. However, travel is going to be difficult, even with up to 4,000 crews MassDOT says they could have working on the roads. Expect it to be the worst Saturday night into Sunday afternoon, from this afternoon's reports. There's been no reports of any cessation of MBTA service, but you can check the MBTA's winter weather page or sign up for T-Alerts.

MBTA Matters

Nothing's planned for this weekend, but some not-so-good news for Orange Line riders: the T's announced that you'll go back to having to deal with weekday suspensions in service between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square. The scheduled dates so far are between March 4-7, and the busing will take place each night from 9:00 PM to the end of service. Also, you can expect that to be the case each Saturday and Sunday from the beginning to end of service for the next two weekends (March 3-4, March 9-10).

Also, Blue Line travelers who exit normally at Orient Heights: the T has also announced that, from the middle of March to mid-October, that station will be shut down due to an intensive remodeling project. I'll have more information on that next week, but plan ahead now - buses will be serving that area.

You'll find slowdowns here...

93 in both directions at 495 (Exit 44), Andover: bridge inspection crews will close various lanes on Saturday from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

95 southbound at Central Street (Exit 55), Byfield: bridge inspection crews will close various lanes from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Tuesday.

195 westbound after Route 6 (Exit 19), Mattapoisett: bridge inspection crews will close various lanes throughout the day on Monday.

Mass Pike in both directions over the 391 interchange, Chicopee: bridge construction will close lanes each day from Tuesday to Friday.

Route 107 northbound at North Street, Salem: utility work will close lanes from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Tuesday.

Route 114 in both directions at Brooksby Village Drive, Danvers: expect utility crews to block lanes each day from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM from Tuesday to Friday.

Route 3 northbound between Route 4 (Exit 32) and Route 40, Chelmsford (Exit 33): construction work closes lanes each Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 PM to 5:30 AM.

Route 128 in both directions between Route 135, Dedham (Exit 17) and Highland Avenue, Needham (Exit 19): continuous lane closures are in effect until further notice as part of the 128 widening project. Expect extra slowdowns, especially during mid-days, for work. Lane split still in effect southbound between Great Plain Avenue and Route 135 - will be until at least the end of 2013.

North Harvard Street over the Larz Anderson Bridge: Continual lane closures are in effect in both directions for bridge reconstruction work. No left turn onto Memorial Drive from JFK Street.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Nichole Davis is a Boston-based traffic reporter and news anchor. She’s been seen and heard on television and radio airwaves across New England since 2003, providing commuters with all the More »

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