If you were walking on Main Street on Tuesday, you had to navigate among snow berms. By Wednesday morning, however, those snow berms were gone. Magic!
Not quite magic. Instead, a long night’s work.
The town’s public works department spent Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning shoveling and scooping up all the snow along Main Street from First Avenue to Division Street and bringing it to the upper parking lot at the town boat launch on Crompton Avenue.
The snow mountains there cover more than half the lot.
“This was more than we typically would bring there,” said DPW head Joe Duarte. “We’ve had very little melting and lots of snow in a short period.”
Duarte’s snow removal budget was looking good until 10 days ago, when the “Juno” blizzard hit, dumping 17 inches of snow on East Greenwich, quickly followed by 5 more inches Thursday and another 8 inches Monday.
“At the rate we’re going, this is not going to be a cheap year,” Duarte said Wednesday.
Clearing the snow off the Main Street sidewalks costs about $5,000, he said. The crew started at 10 p.m. Tuesday and went until around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The town doesn’t remove the snow for every storm – only for big ones. Former Town Manager Bill Sequino said the town’s sidewalk clearing efforts predate his arrival in 1988. He guessed it got started because Main Street is a state road and the plows would push snow up to the curbs and over onto the sidewalks.
It’s helpful for anyone coming to Main Street, he said. Without clearing the snow off the sidewalks, even parking a car and getting out of it is a challenge.
EG Chamber of Commerce head Steve Lombardi said the town’s effort was well worth it.
“We are grateful to the town for removing the snow,” he said via email. “We know they have been dealing with a large volume and high frequency of snow, so the effort is appreciated. Removing the snow helps our merchants so their customers can have access to their places of business. Small businesses appreciate the help – every day they can welcome their customers is a plus.”
According to Duarte, there’s a chance the town won’t have to foot the bill for all the recent plowing and snow removal costs. The town has applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money to help pay for blizzard expenses. No word yet from FEMA and more snow is in the forecast.
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