After Boston endured the snowiest winter on record last winter, officials are ramping up snow operations. From bigger and better snowplows to more sites to pile up all the snow, the entire state of Massachusetts is working to improve their snow response.
Boston was hammered by a barrage of storms that dumped feet of snow on the city last winter, transforming streets to snow piles and cutting access to public transportation for days. In total, the city received more than 108 inches of snow.
By Feb. 9, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said state crews had cleared enough snow from streets to fill Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, 90 times. Piles as high as 10 to 12 feet could be seen on street corners throughout the city.
When June rolled around and the city's last snow pile still hadn't melted, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh got creative, asking residents to guess when the last hint of winter would finally fade. On July 15, the pile finally succumbed to the summer heat.
For one Bostonian, a few shipping labels and slabs of dry ice yielded a business of selling the record-breaking snow.
Though some may have had a little fun with the busy snow season, the record-breaking snow was costly and dangerous.
City officials have already been working to improve infrastructure and create policy changes to prevent a similar frenzy from taking hold of the city.
1. Additional Snow Farms
After the colossal amount of snow Boston received last winter, local officials may be looking to find more locations for snow to call home.
Last year, the city used 11 snow farms. For this season, a Boston public works representative said the city is looking to use a "similar number of farms."
Boston opened up five new sites last year to house the snow that had been piling up on city streets.
2. Heavy-Duty Snowblowers
After renting last year, Boston decided to jump in and buy two new large-scale truck mounted snowblowers.
According to the public works, the new trucks can move 2,750 tons of snow per hour with a casting distance of up to 150 feet. Dump trucks then accompany the blowers, catching snow to move it to a disposal site.
After plowing enough miles of roadways to take a dozen trips around the world last winter, the robust plows should make clearing snow a little more efficient.
3. Public Transportation Upgrades
Using public transportation became impossible at several points during last winter's snow-filled season. On four separate occasions, the T was closed, creating havoc throughout the city and surrounding areas.
In June, Gov. Baker announced a $83.7 million "resiliency plan" to improve the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's response to winter storms.
Some of those improvements include heater upgrades at outdoor sections on two lines, installing fences to prevent snow drift accumulation and adding emergency generators to supplement subway and facility power as needed.
At a press event in September, officials said the work to the Red and Orange Lines should be completed by Dec. 15. Without heaters, the lines freeze in low temperatures and trains cannot run. Over the summer, nearly 9.5 miles of the Red Line got an upgrade for the first time in decades, according to the Boston Globe.
The lines will also be equipped with 20 plows each that can be attached to the trains for snow removal, according to the Globe.
4. Implementation of a Formal Inmate Snow Removal Assistance Program
While the idea isn't new, Gov. Baker announced a formal program for inmates to assist with snow removal as needed.
In February, Suffolk County prisoners who were part of the Community Work Program were called up to help other city workers remove the overwhelming amount of snow.
According to Boston.com, Mayor Marty Walsh asked departments to use their resources as best they could after snow-removal funds had been used up. Commissioner William Christopher brought the idea up to Walsh and successfully carried out the operations.
With the new plan, a formal program will be put into place for when more hands are needed.