Snow Removal Policy
Sidewalk Policies & Snow Removal
We have been looking at current Town policies to make certain that the sidewalks are safe for pedestrians when it snows and to clarify the responsibilities of the Town and residents for clearing sidewalks of snow. DPW has published a Winter Storm Information Brochure (PDF); for more information you may call the DPW Snow Line at 781-274-8381.
The first priority of the DPW is to clear the streets and make them safe during and after a snowstorm. There are more than 500 streets in town that need to be cleared for traffic and more than 52 miles of sidewalks that need to be cleared of snow. According to Manager of DPW Operations Dave Pinsonneault, "the goal is to have the streets clear and to begin salting and sanding operations approximately four hours after a storm ends." Generally, however, plowing is not started until there are approximately two inches of snow on the street.
In larger storms and heavy per-hour snowfall rates:
- the main arteries, such as Mass Avenue, Waltham Street, Lowell Street, and Woburn Street, are cleared first
- then the secondary streets
- then the neighborhood streets
No sidewalks are completely cleared, however, until the snow stops. Depending on the severity of the storm, it may take 2 to 3 days to get all the sidewalks cleared. Once the roads and sidewalks are cleared, curb cuts that have not been cleared by the sidewalk tractors are cleared. Parking spaces are cleared, and snow piles that have blocked parking spaces and lines of sight at intersections are then hauled away.
School administrators review and then recommend the sidewalk routes that need to be cleared so that students are able to walk safely to and from school. The goal of the DPW is to plow every route (43 plow routes) simultaneously along with the selected sidewalks, school parking lots, school driveways, and Town parking lots. For further information on snow removal policy please see the Department of Public Works on the Town website.
At the present time, the Town has no specific regulation that requires homeowners to remove the snow from the sidewalks in front of their homes. Except for the sidewalks that the DPW clears, that responsibility is up to the resident, and many but not all residents do assume that responsibility. Town regulations do, however, prohibit residents and others from blocking a sidewalk with snow once it has been cleared.