Mayor Menino cancels school, urges people to stay off roads Friday; declares Boston ready for possible blizzard

Declaring that the city is ready for what may be a historic blizzard, Mayor Thomas M. Menino today canceled school in Boston for Friday and urged people to stay off roads and out of downtown.

“We haven’t had a snowstorm of this size in many years,” Menino said at a press conference at City Hall. “We are hearty New Englanders used to these storms, but we want people to use common sense and stay off the streets.”

The city, the largest in New England, will increase the number of public safety officials on the streets, Menino said, and take other steps to prepare for the snow. Before dawn Friday, 200 plows and salt spreaders will be crisscrossing roads in Boston. By 9 a.m., officials plan to increase the number of plows and salt spreaders to 600.

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Friday trash pickup will be moved up to 6 a.m. in an effort to get garbage trucks off streets. A snow emergency will go into effect at noon Friday, which bans parking on major thoroughfares. Roughly 15,000 parking spaces will be available at discounted rates at roughly 50 private and municipal garages. Extra staff will be deployed to homeless shelters.

Menino met Thursday in his City Hall office with 50 top municipal officials to discuss preparations for the storm. The team included Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser, and a man introduced as Boston’s snow general, Elmo Baldassari, who as the city’s deputy commissioner of public works oversees snowplows.

Menino seemed confident that his administration was up to the task presented by the storm.

“We’re ready for it,” Menino said before repeating, “The message here is to stay off the public roadways.”

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