The sign read “Tow Zone—No Parking.” Beneath stood a Chevy Malibu, newly parked in a space cleared out amid the mounds of snow and ice clogging one-block Argonne Street.
It wasn’t there long.
It was Monday, Day 1 of a planned week-long special city operation to finally unclog some of New Haven’s least passable small streets. Like Argonne, behind the Walgreen’s just south of Whalley off Ellsworth Avenue.
A traffic enforcement staffer (who declined to give his name) tucked a $30 ticket under the Malibu’s windshield wiper. He sounded the alert siren on his city-issued car, and made an announcement through the car’s loudspeaker, looking for the owner to move the car.
No one emerged to claim the Malibu. A tow truck swooped in and pulled it away. This one was easy—unlike other cars that had to be pried from snowbanks.
Then the payloader came in to Argonne. At last.
In all, 33 cars were towed during Monday’s removal operations, said city traffic tsar Doug Hausladen.
Three squads of workers cleared eight narrow streets in all Monday. Public works staff used Volvo payloaders and large Sterling dump trucks to haul mounds of snow and ice off the targeted streets, the first of about 39 that the city plans to clear this week. (The precise number of streets has been a moving target.)
Monday’s work marked a tactical shift from the city’s snow-combat efforts so far this year. As storm after storm dumped snow this winter, the city had focused on plowing, pushing the snow to the sides of city streets. On Monday, the city began removing the snow, scooping it up with payloaders and carrying it off in dump trucks.
The city is targeting about 39 narrow streets for snow removal. It’s part of a complicated ticketing, towing and plowing operation underway all week. Click here to read the latest about that. (A separate citywide plowing operation will coincide with trash pick-up to widen the travel lanes on other streets.)
The special operation is occurring in part because the city failed to enforce a parking ban in the first place to clear streets for snow plowing. Now several storms’ worth of ice and snow have built up along streets, and make some of them unpassable.
On Monday, the Department of Public Works (DPW) cleared eight streets: Fairfield Street, Carmel Street, York Square, Harding Place, Henry Street, Argonne Street, Ellsworth Avenue, and Pardee Place.
As of Monday afternoon, the city was planning to remove snow on the following streets on Tuesday: Ivy Street, Lilac Street, Sheffield Avenue, Cassius Street, Edgar Street, King Place, Button Street, Wilson Street.
The removal operation affects the odd-numbered side of the street only. The city is posting signs in advance to warn people to keep their cars off that side of the street. (The city has also instituted a city-wide odd-side parking ban.)
Just after 11 a.m. on Monday, one DPW crew was at work on Henry Street between Orchard and Sherman. Willie Perez, behind the wheel of a Volvo payloader dumped huge piles of snow into the back of waiting dump trucks.
The crew on Henry comprised a payloader, three dump trucks, and a sand truck, all under the supervision of the DPW’s Lynwood Dorsey. The department had a total of three such crews working Monday, Dorsey said. He said his workers had been on since 11 p.m. the night before, having spent the wee hours clearing downtown.
As Dorsey’s crew worked on Henry Street, five tow trucks were parked near the intersection of Whalley and Ellsworth, waiting to tow cars parked on the odd side of targeted streets.
On top of $30 tickets, owners of towed cars face $88 towing fees, not including $5.84 in tax and a $4 “fuel surcharge.”
A tow truck driver said he spent some time digging out a car earlier Monday morning so that he could tow it. After he dug the car out, the owner arrived and moved the car to avoid the tow.
At around noon, the tow trucks gathered at Ellsworth and Whalley were dismissed, with instructions that they’d be on call if more towing was needed.
On Harding Place in Newhallville, where Dorsey’s crew ended up just before 1p.m., no tow trucks were needed. The odd side was clear.
Perez set to work with his payloader.
Dump trucks hauled the snow across the street to Sherman Avenue. After the trucks dumped their snow loads, another payloader pushed the piles in between the trees off the side of the road.
“I should be able to park now,” said Ajani Corneiro (pictured), a UNH grad who recently bought a house on the odd side of the street. “It’s been rough,” he said of the winter weather’s impact on his street.
“I’m happy their taking the initiative now,” he said of the city’s removal operation. It would have been nice if they’d done it sooner, he said. “It’s a little late.”
“That makes sense, what they’re doing,” Denise Williams, an assistant teacher, said approvingly. She was standing on her porch watching Nate Roberts manuever a little Bobcat machine to clear her driveway.
“Right here? That looks good,” Williams said, pointing the cleared street where the payloader had just passed through. “They should have done it a little earlier.”
Williams noticed that the even side of the street, however, was looking worse than before, with a new mound of snow pushed up against a black Nissan parked there. “How’s she going to get out?”
The owner of that car will shovel the snow back into the street, Williams predicted. “It’s going to be a mess now again.”
Finished with Harding Place, the crew headed off toward Ellsworth Avenue to finish the day by helping another crew clearing that street.