In a huge vacant lot in Boston’s Seaport District, standing amid 20-foot-high snow piles, Interim Boston Public Works Commissioner Michael Dennehy conducts a symphony of heavy machinery.
Instead of directing percussion and string sections, he’s orchestrating front-end loaders and a Super Cat bulldozer at the city’s largest snow farm.
After a week of record snowfall, Boston is still digging out from more than 40 inches of snow. The question now: Where do you put it all?
“It’s a big parcel but it’s actually gotten a little small on us,” Dennehy says. “It’s where we’re housing most of our snow that we’re farming out so what we’re doing now is we’re trying to increase our capacity by melting some of this snow and giving us the opportunity to remove even more than the 7,500 loads we’ve taken off the Boston streets already.”
And there are certainly plenty more loads of snow waiting on Boston streets. Dennehy says Public Works will focus on clearing main arteries and major intersections, hoping to uncover a few highly sought-after parking spots in the process.
At a press conference this week, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he wouldn’t be surprised if the city “shattered” its snow-removal budget. “Our budget for snow is roughly $18 million,” says Mayor Walsh. “We’re not over the top yet with the $18 million, we still have money underneath the cap. But we’re heading towards that.”
The city estimates a $10 million dollar chunk of that budget was swallowed up by a single storm – last week’s blizzard, which dumped more than 2 feet of snow on Boston.
Back at the snow farm, Dennehy looks on while heaps of snow vanish into the melter. As the runoff flows into a nearby catch basin, he strikes a realistic tone about the city’s progress.
“When you have to bring a snow melter into your snow farm to continue farming,” he says, “then there’s always more work to be done.”
Luckily for the city, and that soon-to-be-shattered snow-removal budget, the snow melters come free of charge, courtesy of the state’s Massachusetts Port Authority.
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