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The Boston Globe


Boston officials aiming for rapid cleanup from storm

Want shoppers and commuters to have clear path

Amelia Aburn, 22, of Boston (left) and Matt Geraty, 23, of Baltimore shared a moment in the middle of the frozen pond in the center of the Public Garden.

Jessica Rinaldi For The Boston Globe

Amelia Aburn, 22, of Boston (left) and Matt Geraty, 23, of Baltimore shared a moment in the middle of the frozen pond in the center of the Public Garden.

A hardy snowstorm Saturday led to highway accidents in Massachusetts, as well as the cancellation of some interstate bus travel and Sunday church services.

But in Boston, where snow accumulation remained light late Saturday night, officials said they aimed to clear main arteries and roadways for holiday shoppers Sunday.

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Massachusetts Department of Transportation crews began pretreating roads statewide with salt Saturday morning and continued into the afternoon, spokeswoman Sara Lavoie said.

Despite the precautions, a tractor-trailer jackknifed on Interstate 90 in Charlton at about 10 p.m., shutting down all three lanes of the turnpike’s westbound side, said Trooper Reid Bagley. Minor injuries were reported, Bagley said.

“It is likely the weather played a factor [in the crash], but there are no details on the investigation at this point,” Bagley said.

Bagley said a different tractor-trailer had crashed in Charlton around 7 p.m., leaking fuel and shutting down two eastbound lanes. No injuries were reported and crews had cleared the scene by 8:30, he said.

By Saturday night, Concord Coach Lines had canceled several early morning buses scheduled to run between Boston and other New England cities. Peter Pan Bus Lines canceled two Springfield bus lines Saturday and multiple trips within New England, as well as between New York and cities in the region.

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Some churches west of Boston also called off Sunday services and activities.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and the New Hope Chapel in Westborough said they would not hold morning services. In a Facebook post, The New Hope Chapel also announced that it still planned to celebrate a Christmas party in the evening.

Also in Westborough, Congregation B’nai Shalom canceled classes and meetings, and the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church said it will be closed all day and rescheduled its Christmas pageant for next Sunday.

While the storm was forecast to blanket Boston with up to 8 inches of snow, most of it was expected to fall before 1 p.m. Sunday.

“The fact that it’s coming on a weekend and the worst of it is going to be overnight, that bodes well for travelers in the state and residents in the state, because we won’t have the work commuters or people trying to get to school,” David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said Saturday afternoon.

Procopio said that State Police officials had no plans to place additional troopers on the roads over the weekend. However, troopers will be on standby, and if necessary, some would be asked to work past their shifts.

At a Saturday afternoon press conference, Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston emphasized that while he and his “snow team” had no major concerns, they did want to prioritize clearing roads so that citizens could resume holiday activities safely Sunday.

Menino said he could not yet “place a price tag” on the storm’s costs. “We don’t worry about the budget [for] the snow,” said Menino, who also joked that he hopes this will be the last snowstorm he sees while in office.

The storm fell on one of three main holiday shopping weekends, interrupting sales important to retailer.

Retailers already faced a tough holiday season, having lost a weekend of sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to Jon Hurst, president of the Massachusetts Retailers Association.

“You don’t like to see a storm in one of the final weekends before Christmas,” Hurst said Saturday. “It would be preferable if it was last weekend instead of this weekend, but [a storm] this weekend is better than next weekend.”

The MBTA issued a service alert that shuttle buses would replace the Mattapan High-Speed Line on Sunday, due to anticipated snow accumulation, and the communities of Medford, Somerville, and Braintree each declared a snow emergency Saturday morning.

Snowfall was expected to be heavy until about 4 a.m., with temperatures rising into the mid-30s by dawn, according to the National Weather Service. After the main snowfall passes about 1 p.m. Sunday, there could be a couple of hours of light snow, the Weather Service said.

Globe correspondents Juan Cajigas Jimenez, Jaclyn Reiss, and Katy Rushlau contributed to this report.

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