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Boston phasing in changes to street-sweeping schedules; 2 months added in South End

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  December 29, 2011 06:13 PM

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Starting this spring, Boston will phase in changes to street-sweeping schedules to allow more roads to be swept within the first two days after weekly trash collection, the city has announced.

The city also said that the South End, beginning in 2012, will become the second neighborhood to join an initiative in which street sweeping is extended by two months each year.

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(Globe file)
That lengthened street-cleaning program runs for 10 months, cutting into both the late- and early-winter months, from the start of March through December’s end. It was introduced as a pilot program last year in the North End, where protests caused the city to suspend its original plan to try street sweeping year-round.

City officials said the additional months of street sweeping do not come at an added cost because the program is worked into the public works department’s existing operations.

The city spends about $4.5-million each year on street sweeping – one component of an annual budget that hovers around $16 million to pay to keep public ways clear of debris, including snow.

The department said there are no plans in place to include more neighborhoods into the 10-month street sweeping program.

The rest of Boston’s streets are swept during weekday daytime periods over an eight-month span, from the beginning of April through the end of November.

Of the city’s 803 miles of roadway, 512 miles belong to a scheduled street sweeping program designated by posted signs, public works officials said.

And, of the 512 miles of road that are swept on a regular, posted schedule, 122 miles, or about 25 percent, will undergo street sweeping schedule changes this coming year. The city said the changes are designed to create better coordination with the trash collection program, which the city contracts out to remove and dispose of approximately 260,000 tons of solid waste and 45,000 tons of recycling annually.

“It has always been a very high priority for my administration to keep our wonderful city clean,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement. “We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our daily operations and by realigning the street sweeping schedule to match the weekly trash collection operations, we’re smartly maximizing the potential of each program to keep our streets clean.”

Changes will only be made to the timing of street cleaning, not to trash pickup, and will be phased in over the next two years, according to public works officials.

The project will include replacing between 1,000 and 2,000 street signs, and between 5,000 and 7,000 additional signs will be updated using stickers that will cover old street sweeping schedules with new ones, said a spokeswoman for the city transportation department, which oversees enforcement of street sweeping rules.

She said there is no estimate on how much it will cost to install and update the signs. City officials said that many of the existing street signs are older and are in line to be replaced soon anyway.

As for any financial impact the city will face for altering its street cleaning schedules, the public works department said: “We expect this program to be cost neutral, but will provide a much higher level of service to Boston residents.”

Street signs in South Boston, East Boston and Charlestown have been updated to reflect cleaning schedule changes along those neighborhoods’ roadways, officials said.

City transportation department workers are in the process of replacing every sign in the South End to reflect the addition of the months of March and December to that neighborhood’s annual street sweeping program, public works officials said. The new street signs in the South End will also reflect changes made to better harmonize road cleaning and trash collection.

Signs in Roxbury, Allston and Brighton will be replaced later this winter to reflect changes there, official said.

Residents can sign up for the city’s “No-Tow” automated alert system, which sends users reminders – via a text message, phone call or e-mail – about moving their vehicles the night before their street is swept. Any car that is not moved during posted hours when street sweeping is scheduled is subject to receiving a ticket, which costs $40 and is administered by the city, and being towed, which is done by private companies and generally costs an additional $100 to $150.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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