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After 40 inches of snow, Boston side streets clogged

Crews worked to remove snow from Cambridge Street, which is along the Patriots Victory Parade route.
Crews worked to remove snow from Cambridge Street, which is along the Patriots Victory Parade route. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Clear black asphalt shimmered on Blue Hill Avenue Tuesday afternoon, scraped clean of snow like most of Boston’s main thoroughfares.

Travel remained difficult, however, on side streets, which were passable but cloaked in snow, rutted by traffic, and constricted by massive white embankments. Tires spun on Ansel Road, Balsam and Arbutus streets, and other tributaries flowing into Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester.

“The city needs to do a better job,” Henry Dew said as he walked with a shovel on his shoulder.

That sentiment resonated on Zeigler Street in Roxbury, where Davonte Thompson said he had been digging out his car for hours without seeing a plow pass. In East Boston, Sharon Sneed gave Boston a grade of “a whopping zero” for its response to the epic snowfall.


But Diego Navarro praised the cleanup effort as he walked down the middle of Sumner Street, saying crews “did a fantastic job.” That same positive appraisal could be found in South Boston, where two-way streets such as East Sixth have been pinched to a single lane.

“The mayor has done the best he could,” Bill Mackin said as he shoveled. “He’s got to worry about the main roads in case anyone is sick or hurt.”

At a City Hall news conference, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said “of course” he was satisfied with his administration’s cleanup effort as it faced a record-setting 40-plus inches of snow in one week. But now, Walsh is imploring residents for something that might be in shorter supply than sidewalk salt or shovels.

“We’re asking people to be patient,” Walsh said, adding, “This snow is going to be here for a while. It is not going to be removed tomorrow [or] by the weekend.”

Boston public schools were scheduled to resume classes Wednesday, Walsh said. Basic city services such as trash collection have continued on schedule but at a slower pace, according to Walsh’s office.


Residents were urged to shovel out fire hydrants and wheelchair ramps, check on elderly neighbors, and clear dryer vents because there had been two home evacuations because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The city estimated it cost $10 million to clean up last week’s blizzard, which was more than half the $18 million snow budget for the winter. The $10 million did not include Monday’s 16-inch snowfall.

Walsh urged property owners to shovel wider trails on sidewalks. The city requires a path at least 48 inches wide to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Violators face a $25 fine, and by Tuesday morning the city had issued 1,168 tickets for failing to remove snow.

But after a winter’s worth of snow in one week, city snow regulations were at odds with basic physics. There simply was no place left to pile snow on Boston’s old, narrow sidewalks.

Walsh vowed to crack down on shovelers who toss snow onto streets. City inspectors will be on patrol issuing $50 tickets, and the mayor encouraged people to take pictures of scofflaw neighbors and transmit evidence to City Hall via the Citizens Connect smartphone app.

“We will send somebody out to their house to give them a ticket,” Walsh said. “That’s how serious this [is].”

Snow melters on loan from Massport and Northeastern University accelerated nature on a cold day. Interim Public Works Commissioner Michael Dennehy said the city had a total of 150 plows, backhoes, and salters working during the day Tuesday. Inspectors fanned out across the city to identify snow berms clogging intersections.


Snow removal was expected to begin in earnest after the Tuesday evening rush hour and continue until dawn, Dennehy said. More than 400 pieces of equipment would attack intersections, Dennehy promised, using bulldozers and dump trucks to haul snow. Traffic made it difficult to perform large-scale snow removal during daylight.

“We get more bang for our buck doing it at night,” Dennehy said.

The mayor rejected any suggestion the city had not hauled away enough snow between storms.

“We had a blizzard last week. To be able to remove and get the city open literally in two days I think was a monumental task,” Walsh said. “It’s easy to second-guess us. This is Mother Nature . . . . Certainly, we would have loved to remove more snow.”

On the Colonial-era streets of Beacon Hill, cars remained socked in by snow. A woman pulled a baby carriage up a slushy road.

“The main streets are OK,” Betty Gonzales said as she walked on Chestnut Street. “But the secondary [ones are] not that clear.”

Near Louisburg Square, Kip Prahl wore a knit New England Patriots hat. He was visiting Boston from California for his daughter’s wedding and had been in town since the blizzard.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Prahl said.

Andrew Ryan can be reached at andrew.ryan@globe.com.