Public Works: snow removal

Since the first of four large snow storms during the 2015 winter, Public Works has been actively removing snow, first in commercial areas, then along major streets and later along some of the narrower and more heavily used residential streets. Early in the morning of Monday, March 9, a crew came to work on blocks of Fuller St. between Harvard St. and Commonwealth Ave.

Equipment: The key equipment for snow removal is industrial snow blowers, much larger and more powerful than those sold for home and commercial use. Brookline has been using models D65 and D60 from JA Larue of Quebec. They clear paths about 9 ft wide through snow banks up to about 4 ft and 6 ft high, respectively, powered by 200 to 400 hp diesel engines.

The blowers have been mounted on 4-wheel front-loaders from Volvo Construction Equipment, of about the L120 class, with tires over 4 ft in diameter. Large 10-wheel and 14-wheel dump trucks, with capacities about 10 to 16 cu yd, move along with the blowers, catch snow and cart it to disposal sites. Brookline has been storing snow near the waste transfer station off Newton St. and in some of the larger parks, including Emerson Garden.

Cost and productivity: On Fuller St., staffed with one blower, five trucks and a supervisor, the crew took about an hour to clear a 4 to 5-ft wide snow berm on the northeast side, 3 to 6 ft high, from the 800-ft block between Gibbs and Clarence Sts. At a nominal $150 per hour for each item of major equipment, that operation might have cost about $1,000–around $6,000 per mile.

Productivity was reduced by waiting for trucks, with the blower left idle about half the time. However, cost per mile was dominated by trucking and could not have been reduced by much. The supervisor and two of the trucks were Brookline-marked vehicles. The other trucks and possibly the blower were from D’Allessandro of Avon, the main contractor for snow clearance during the winter of 2015.

At a meeting of the Board of Selectmen Tuesday, March 10, Public Works is seeking a $1.5 million increase in the D’Allessandro contract. If board members are on their toes, we can expect to hear how much Brookline has spent for the season. The reported season snow total of 8-1/2 feet, so far, is way beyond the 3-1/2 feet of snow assumed for this year’s budget, and the snowfall concentration over less than three weeks, early in the season, led to much more snow removal than usual.

– Craig Bolon, Brookline, MA, March 9, 2015

Board of Selectmen: $7.665 million tax override, Brookline Beacon, February 12, 2015

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