Boston lifts parking ban, will reopen schools Wednesday
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said today that snow removal efforts have been effective enough in clearing major roads and sidewalks to permit the reopening Wednesday of Boston’s public schools, which were closed Friday as the Blizzard of 2013 crept toward the city.
The mayor’s office also declared an end to the parking ban and snow emergency at 6 p.m. tonight, and said the reduced rates that residents have been paying at parking garages would end at 8 p.m.
“Our snow removal teams did great work throughout the night last night,” Menino said in a statement. “Our crews will be out there all day and again tonight as we continue to widen roads, make our schools safe for students, and respond to residents’ concerns about residential areas.”
According to the city, city crews removed 1,350 loads of snow last night and trucked them to snow farms established around the city, including those at the Marine Industrial Park in South Boston, Reservation Road in Hyde Park, and next to 1542 Columbus Ave.
Removal will continue at 22 major arteries in the city, and Boston school officials will check out both the school buildings and the routes used by school buses to ensure that both can safely accommodate the resumption of classes.
The city is also directing its attention to 70 streets whose residents have notified the city that their streets still need clearing. On Monday, Menino told the Globe in an interview that he was frustrated by the pace of the cleanup and apologized for the headaches residents have faced as a result.
Responding to complaints that clogged sidewalks are forcing people to walk in the streets, the city warned drivers to be alert.
“The City is asking residents to proceed with extreme caution when traveling through the City. Drivers should pay special attention to increased numbers of pedestrians,’’ the administration said in the statement.
The city also warned drivers to pay attention to parking rules, especially in locations marked by “No Parking’’ signs and to expect some road closures when work crews arrive to haul the snow away.
City officials have issued more than 500 citations to property owners who failed to adequately clear sidewalks or who put snow on city streets and sidewalks. The citations, which cost between $50 and $300 each, depending on the violation, accounted for at least $25,650 in fines that were handed out between Saturday and Tuesday morning.
Governor Deval Patrick said today that officials may know by the end of the week whether the state can apply for federal aid to offset damages from the weekend’s epic snowstorm.
He said during an afternoon press conference that officials are still tallying financial damages from the storm, and he could not provide an estimate.
“We’re obviously very keen to get those numbers,” which will determine whether federal aid is possible, Patrick said.
He also said the state’s major utilities have performed better this time around than during the October 2011 nor’easter, when about 800,000 residents lost power at the storm’s peak. This time, Patrick said, half as many residents were without power at the height of the storm.
“They’ve been pulling those [numbers] down steadily,” he said, while adding that “I totally get the fact that individual customers feel [frustrated] if they still don’t have power and their lives have been disrupted.”
Speaking at the state transportation department’s highway operations center in South Boston, the governor also thanked his highway team for their efforts in clearing major state roads.
“Everybody here, almost everybody here, is sleep-deprived but no less focused,” Patrick said. Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey said after the news conference that all state roads are currently passable, with a little shoulder-clearing left to do in some areas. He said the T was fully functioning as of this morning, when the Mattapan high-speed trolley line reopened for rush hour.
He said the small snowfall forecast for midweek is not expected to interrupt T service.
“An inch or two does not wreak havoc on the T at all in terms of its equipment,” Davey said.
He added that the transportation department has exceeded its snow and ice budget for the year, which is tens of millions of dollars, though he did not have the precise number. Davey defended the administration’s decision to issue a travel ban at the height of the storm and said he was not aware of anyone being hit with a $500 ticket or a year in jail for violating the order.
When a reporter described the penalty as a threat, Davey said that “driving a car into a snowbank” is a grim prospect as well. He also defended the city of Boston’s road-clearing efforts, following reports that some residents have gone days without seeing their streets plowed.
Davey, a Boston resident, said that “in my neighborhood, things look good.” “Two and a half feet of snow, it’s a significant challenge for a city like Boston,” with a layout that includes a number of narrow streets, he said.Travis Andersen of the Globe staff and correspondent Matt Rocheleau contributed to this report. Andrew Ryan can be reached at ARyan@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @GlobeAndrewRyan. John R. Ellement can be reached email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREBosGlobe.