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For truck after truck, Boston snow farms are the destination

Dump trucks carrying snow that has been removed from roadways and sidewalks dump their payloads in a lot on South Boston. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Tucked away at the far edge of the Seaport District in an industrial area, the vacant lot has a lonely, out-of-the-way feel.

But after Tuesday’s historic blizzard dumped more than two feet of snow in Boston, 6 Tide St. is in heavy demand.

The large expanse serves as one of several “snow farms” used to store the tons of snow that have bottled up the city this week, like an attic for a cluttered home. On Thursday, truck after truck rumbled into the lot carrying full loads of snow to their final destination. At least until it’s warmer.

One day, the empty lot may cast off its chilly duties, and be home to an office building or research facility. But for now, it must be content to perform a key municipal function. For public works officials, it’s the space’s emptiness that makes it reassuring.


“This is a godsend,” said Michael Dennehy, the city’s interim commissioner of public works. “This is by far the biggest snow farm in the city.”

The other storage facilities are scattered across the city to reduce travel time for the fleet of plows. The city is using lots by the Franklin Park Zoo, by the Franklin Park golf course, on Geneva Avenue in Dorchester, and in Hyde Park.

In addition, Boston is using two industrial snow-melting machines on loan from the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan International Airport. The high-volume tanks can melt 150 tons of snow per hour, Dennehy said.

The tanks are portable, and are currently at Franklin Park and in East Boston. But while they are highly efficient, the machines are expensive enough to be considered a luxury. The melters were deployed after the massive February 2013 nor’easter.

“You might only use them four times in a decade,” Dennehy said.

On Tide Street, the towering piles of snow pushed to the edge of the lot attest to the strength of the storm, one of the largest in Boston’s history, as well as the scope of the cleanup effort. On Thursday, 150 trucks were hauling snow, slowly chipping away at the massive roadside piles.


“Today was a monster day,” said Kevin Linskey, a highway construction engineer for the city, as he watched another dump truck roll into the yard.

The farm received 1,400 truck loads, which equals 25,000 cubic yards of snow, during the day. But the lot’s location makes the regular rumble more manageable.

“You’re not bothering people,” Dennehy said.

Dennehy said the travel ban, which was widely followed, was an enormous help in clearing the roads.

Since Tuesday, plows have worked with trucks to remove the snow from neighborhood streets and carry it to the farms, where it is packed into a hard bank. There it will sit, until the sun finally summons the warmth to melt it and send it on its way.

Peter Schworm can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globepete.