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New snow plow system in Waltham a boon for keeping roads, sidewalks clear

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  January 3, 2014 04:28 PM

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With three snow storms under Waltham's belt this season, Mayor Jeannette McCarthy said that a new system of plowing the city introduced this winter has garnered positive results.

City officials switched to a system last year where snow plowers are now paid by the inch, not by the hour, after a poor snow-clearing response kept Waltham public schools closed last February.

"It seems to be working much better," McCarthy said over the phone today. "I have had far fewer complaints with the inch system."

Councilors said last February that even though the public was warned of a massive blizzard, many of Waltham's roads were not properly plowed in the days that followed. They also said they were also disappointed in the snowy state of the sidewalks around town.

McCarthy previously blamed private contractors hired by the city to plow the streets and sidewalks. She said that the contractors were paid by the hour, which cuts into any incentive to do an adequate job as quickly as possible.

"I am not happy and I am changing the system," McCarthy previously said. "I want to divide up the town into a quadrant system, and then pay the contractors by inch, not by hour."

With the new system, Waltham now uses an outside contractor to plow the streets while city workers shovel out sidewalks near schools and along main thoroughfares.

Compared to last year's system, where the city used a combination of in-city works and private contractors to plow, the new system has worked wonders, McCarthy said.

"We freed up the CPW employees to do the sidewalks," she said, noting that other than some businesses along Moody and Main streets, most Waltham home and business owners are not required by the city to shovel nearby sidewalks.

McCarthy said she received some complaints from residents who lived on smaller side streets that their roads were not plowed enough, but said she has responded and everything has been taken care of.

And the most rewarding of all?

"Some people called to say thank you for correcting the problems," McCarthy said.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at

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