After facing significant challenges with snow removal in past winters, city officials have developed a plan to keep streets cleared this season.
Last year, some of the Elm City’s streets received more than 16 inches of snow after experiencing three consecutive major storms. Deputy Director of Operations of the Emergency Operations Center Rick Fontana said that the city was caught off guard last winter because several of its snow removal trucks were taken off of the streets by the State Department due to maintenance issues. While the city has not yet experienced a blizzard this year, city officials plan to introduce a strongly enforced parking ban and a larger fleet of trucks to improve snow removal.
“It’s typically when we get to snow levels of six inches or greater that we have to declare a parking ban,” Fontana said. “It’s kind of common sense. You’ve got to get the cars off the street to get it plowed.”
The bans will be communicated whenever necessary through phone calls, text messages or emails to all New Haven residents who sign up for the service. Alerts will also be transmitted through the Yale Alert System and the city’s website.
With a fleet of approximately 30 vehicles, including nine new class-eight trucks and a 10-foot snow blower loaded into a trailer truck, the EOC has stockpiled tools to remove the snow this year, according to Fontana.
It has even hired contractors to have more trucks available when needed. With a properly respected parking ban, this would allow even the eight narrowest snow routes in the city to be cleared whenever necessary, Fontana said.
Rachel Williams ’17 said she recalled having a tough time with the snow when visiting Stop & Shop in February last year.
“Once you got outside the Yale area, you could tell that it was not that well taken care of,” Williams said. “One time I went to Stop & Shop, and as soon as I got off the Yale Campus there were just piles of snow that hadn’t been pushed off the sidewalk, and I was basically climbing down small mountains of snow.”
The city’s inability to fulfill its street-clearing plan last year made several residents, such as William Iovanne, director of the Iovanne Funeral Home, step in to help with snow removal. That winter, Iovanne cleared a five-block area from Olive Street to Franklin Street and from Wooster Street to Green Street.
Iovanne testified at a meeting of the Board of Alders on Oct. 14 to express concern with the way that New Haven managed snow removal last year, but he trusts Fontana to lead an efficient operation this year.
“This year, the city has a plan, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in Rick Fontana,” Iovanne said. “They’ve put together, from what I can see, an excellent plan.”
Fontana underscored that snow removal is necessary to maintain safe streets — with excessive levels of snow, senior citizens are at risk of slipping on the sidewalks and getting injured, while automobiles may skid and cause accidents.
Some streets along 22 major routes are scheduled to become part of what Fontana called “posted snow routes,” on which violators of parking bans will be ticketed and towed to allow for quick snow removal. The highest priority routes will be those leading to New Haven’s two public hospitals, so that emergency vehicles can move in a safe and quick manner.
If all else fails, the city will spread salt and sand as necessary on snow-ridden streets.
The city is currently considering a variety of alternatives to meet residents’ parking needs. Iovanne said that, with proper communication would encourage residents to cooperate with the city, because the fees for parking overnight are still less expensive than the tickets faced by ban violators.
Even while he sees improvement over last winter’s conditions, Iovanne still feels that the plan is highly dependent on the collaboration of New Haven’s citizens.
“No plan is perfect. What they have now is a great plan,” Iovanne said. “They’re headed in the right direction, but it’s going to take the cooperation of owners of vehicles.”