Isaac Yu, Contributing Photographer

Coming soon to your neighborhood: Pelican and Tornado, a pair of street-sweeping machines that will keep New Haven’s roads clean.

On Wednesday, officials kicked off New Haven’s annual street sweeping season at a press event behind the Department of Public Works. On display were the pair of street-sweeping machines that will be visiting each New Haven neighborhood to remove salt, leaves and other debris from roads. This year, their operations will span from April 1 to Nov. 30. Officials also said that they are counting on New Haven residents who use street-side parking to move their cars before street sweeping sessions.

“We’re really trying to get the word out about how important it is for street sweeping to happen,” Mayor Justin Elicker said. “It keeps our city streets clean, and it’s also good for the environment.”

The mechanical sweeper Pelican is a new addition to the DPW and cost $225,000 as an upgrade from an older machine, according to DPW director Jeff Pescosolido. Pelican will work with its teammate Tornado, a broom-and-air sweeper, to reduce runoff water pollution and beautify streetscapes. Last year, DPW removed 2,000 tons of debris from city roads.

Pelican and Tornado’s first destination on Thursday will be Wooster Square. According to DPW’s full street sweeping schedule, the machines will make monthly visits to each of their 14 routes, which are roughly divided by neighborhood. They will clear the streets of winter salt, sand residue, motor vehicle oil and fall leaves. 

“The city of New Haven is very proactive in keeping our streets clean — [all] 231 miles,” said Pescosolido. 

In addition to reviewing the schedule, residents should go onto the city’s website and sign up to receive emergency alert notifications about street sweeping via text and email so they know when to move their cars, Elicker said. These alerts, which include information about other services like snow plowing, will supplement the use of large, red-lettered paper signs that are posted at sweeping sites 24 hours in advance. 

Emergency Operations Director Rick Fontana said that the emergency alerts will consist of short, simplified texts this year in response to resident feedback. 

“Sign up for alerts, stay on top of the street sweeping season,” Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Doug Hausladen ’04 said. “Talk to your neighbors, talk to the folks on your street and let them know that street sweeping is here.”

This season will also see the continuation of a “no-tow” policy that the city established last September. Previously, car owners who failed to move their cars during a street sweeping session would receive a $50 ticket and an $89 towing fee, in addition to any storage fees imposed by towing companies. 

Now, offending cars will not be towed, and owners will instead receive a $100 ticket, reducing the overall cost to residents as well as the stress of retrieving their possessions. 

“People don’t have to race across town to try to find their car,” Elicker said. “The idea is that [this system] is easier, but there’s still a real incentive [to move their cars].”

The New Haven Department of Public Works is located at 34 Middletown Ave.

Isaac Yu |

Isaac Yu writes about Yale's faculty and academics. He is a production and design editor for the News, runs the News' Instagram page and previously covered transportation and urban planning in New Haven. Hailing from Garland, Texas, he is a Berkeley College sophomore majoring in Urban Studies.