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Warm Weather, Melting Encouraged City to Open Schools, End Snow Emergency

"We're working around the clock. Literally around the clock," said a city spokesperson about snow removal efforts.

After deciding Monday to keep Somerville's public schools closed until at least Thursday—to allow workers to clear snow after a weekend blizzard—the city reversed course Tuesday afternoon and declared schools would be open Wednesday.

The city also lifted its snow emergency and parking ban, effective Tuesday night at 8 p.m.

Tuesday's news came after a short series of decisions and reversals about the parking ban and school cancelations. On Sunday, the city , saying the snow emergency would remain in effect until future notice and that schools would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

At about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, the city issued another alert announcing the end of the snow emergency and saying that schools, in fact, would be open Wednesday.

Warm weather helped

Jackie Rossetti, a spokesperson for the city, said Tuesday's warm weather and the extended forecast contributed to the city changing its mind. "There's been a lot of melting that's happened," she said. In addition, when city officials looked at the forecast Monday, there was a possibility of snow on Thursday and Saturday. By Tuesday afternoon, the forecast had changed, and the threat of more snow was diminished, Rossetti said.

In addition, the city hired more independent contractors to remove snow, and Federal Realty Investment Trust, the real estate firm developing Assembly Row, allowed the city to dump snow on a parcel of land it owns—the same parcel that was once owned by IKEA.

All of that contributed to the city's ability to clean streets faster, Rossetti said. "The decision was made after some review this afternoon," she said, speaking Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier on Tuesday, the city of Boston also decided to lift its parking ban Tuesday and open its schools Wednesday.

Is there space to park on streets?

With the lifting of the snow emergency at 8 p.m. Tuesday night, residents who had parked cars in municipal lots had until 10 p.m. to remove their cars. During snow emergencies in Somerville, residents can only park on the odd-numbered side of the road in order to allow plows to pass, and municipal lots are available so residents can park cars in them.

By Tuesday night however, many streets in the city, particularly side streets, were still clogged with daunting snow banks spilling into the roadways, with seemingly little room for cars to park on both sides while still making room for a lane of traffic.

Rossetti acknowledged many side streets were still quite narrow due to the snow, but she said city crews had been working hard to clear parking areas on the maid roads. She said the city doesn't lift a snow ban unless it's "confident" there are enough spaces for residents.

She asked people to use their common sense in deciding if they can park on a street. If a car is blocking a lane, it could be towed.

"We've got to strike a balance," Rossetti said about deciding when to lift a snow ban. "It's always a complicated issue in a city [like] Somerville."

Meanwhile, crews will continue 24 hours a day to clear snow: "We're working around the clock. Literally around the clock," Rossetti said.

In regard to Monday's decision to close schools on Wednesday and then Tuesday's decision to open them on Wednesday, Rossetti said most parents have been understanding that "this is all about safety for our kids."

LSG February 13, 2013 at 01:07 PM
My husband works nights and had to shovel his way into a snowbank at 4 a.m. This is after he spent all day Saturday digging out his own vehicle and two others that weren't his just to keep those car owners from shoveling onto our sidewalk. Our street is a busy one with lots of vehicle and foot traffic, and the City made zero effort to clear the even side to the curb, even though there is a large traffic island that could have been used as a place to put the snow.
MEB February 14, 2013 at 03:41 PM
It's obvious nobody had spent time developing an effective plan for this kind of storm, which is scary. It's not THAT unusual, and conditions were favorable for clean-up. Management needs to get a spanking...they're good at doing that if residents don't comply with their mandates.

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