Latest Post-Storm Solution: “Mount Snow”

Thomas MacMillan Photo City officials are figuring out where to store all the snow and ice setting up semi-permanent residence in New Haven—and they’ve unveiled a new parking plan for when the next storm hits, which could happen Wednesday.

Multiple snowstorms in recent weeks have left New Haven piled high with snow and ice, and while the streets are largely clear, the Department of Public Works (DPW) continues to widen roads. Plows and payloaders are doing that by pushing the snow to the curb, and by scooping it up and hauling it to several snow depots around town.

Meanwhile, the department has a new plan for snowstorm parking aimed to facilitate efficient plowing. Confusion followed the last big storm, when word didn’t get out about where to park when.

Uma Ramiah File PhotoThe new plan, according to Howard Weissberg, deputy director of the DPW, is simple: On the day of a storm and the day after, people should park their cars on the even side of the street. That’s because most fire hydrants are on the odd side of the street, Weissberg said.

The new rule isn’t a parking ban, “in any way shape or form,” Weissberg said. It’s more like a request for cooperation and coordination between neighbors and the city, he said. If everyone parks on the even side of the street, it will be easier for plows to make the streets quickly passable, Weissberg said.

Weissberg’s crew may have the chance to try to new system starting Wednesday night, when yet another sizable snowfall is predicted.

Weissberg acknowledged that such coordination hadn’t worked out so well during the last blizzard. The city put out the word about alternate-side parking, but the “magnitude [of snow] didn’t allow that to happen,” Weissberg said.

The ideal snow removal would be to open the main roadway the first day, clear one side of the street the second, and clear the other side the third, Weissberg said.

New Haven has 240 miles of roads, Weissberg said. That’s 480 miles to plow, since the trucks have to work both sides of each street, he said. It’s a time-consuming process.

“What we try to do is push it back as soon as possible,” he said. It can be a race against time, since rain and temperature changes can make the snow more difficult to manipulate.

The ideal isn’t always possible, especially when New Haven gets as much snow as it has, he said. In a city, where space is at a premium, snow removal faces additional obstacles.

“In a suburb, when you push the snow to the side of the road, the side of the road doesn’t throw the snow back at you,” Weissberg said. With everyone clearing off their cars and shovelling out their driveways into the street, the road can quickly become snowed in even right after a plow has passed, he said.

On Monday, several days after the latest snow, DPW trucks and equipment were deployed to George Street and Middletown Avenue to widen streets. At this stage, the snow has hardened to the point where a payloader is needed. Ordinary plow-blades are no match for snow that’s melted and re-frozen, Weissberg said.

George Street was selected because it’s a heavily travelled bus route, Weissberg said. The DPW takes multiple forms of transportation into account when clearing the streets, from cyclists to bus riders, he said,

The payloaders push the snow off the street, or—in some areas flagged as inaccessible by the fire department or trash haulers—scoop it into trucks for removal. The snow is taken to a few different locations. The main cache (pictured at the top of the story) is at 34 Middletown Ave., DPW headquarters.

“It’s Mount Snow,” said Weissberg, referring affectionately to the 15-foot high plateau of snow occupying one end of the parking lot.

The DPW has another mound in a parking lot in East Shore Park, Weissberg said. That snow will also be moved to Mount Snow, he said. Another mountain is being built on Chapel Street, he said.

At the intersection of Clinton and Middletown avenues on Monday afternoon, payloader operator Wilfredo Perez was finishing up his work widening the intersection. He said he’s going back to finish George Street on Tuesday, then headed over to work on Sherman Avenue.

Tired of the snow? You could try putting in request for a reprieve on the Green, where a giant, bespectacled snow-head accepts wishful pennies placed in his mouth. But choose your wishes wisely; quantities are limited. A sign nearby reads, “Sorry, tough times ... Limit 2 Wishes.”

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posted by: Edward_H on January 25, 2011  12:44pm

Is it illegal to dump snow into the Sound?

posted by: Alina B. on January 25, 2011  12:49pm

Several streets around town have still not been plowed - there isn’t room for parking on any side of the street, let alone the even side.

posted by: robn on January 25, 2011  1:06pm

Hey! Great idea!

So when is the day “OF” the storm. Is it the day you wake up and there is snow that fell in the a.m.? Or is it the day you go to bed early but the snow starts an hour later?

Think about it guys.

posted by: elmcityguy on January 25, 2011  1:16pm

Snow removal has been abysmal this year. At least half the spaces are unplowed, despite no one parking there due to the snow. And, I might have some sympathy for the city there, except the opposite side of the street has NO parking, and there is still a few feet of snow.

posted by: midwesterner on January 25, 2011  1:37pm

um… it’s really this simple. 

even numbered day = even side of the street.  odd numbered day = odd side of the street. 

do people in new haven understand that winter happens EVERY year?

posted by: Canner on January 25, 2011  1:53pm

If the streets are “Largely Clear” how come Whitney Avenue has only 1 lane on each side? Snow plowing in New Haven has been the same disappointing mess as it has been over the past years. New Haven should be ashamed of their streets and how they look!

As for dumping the extra snow in the LI Sound, unsure if it’s illegal. In Minnesota it’s dumped into the lakes and in N. Dakota it’s dumped on farm land

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on January 25, 2011  1:56pm

We got robocalls from the Mayor (in his own voice!) telling us which side of the street to park on.

Trouble was, he got the date wrong in the call. It was Tuesday evening, IIRC, and the call said, “tonight, Wednesday, January 12.” 


And I’m with midwesterner - match the side of the street to the day of the month, instead of “the day of the storm.”  Because as robn said, when it snows over a period of two calendar days, what’s the “day of the storm”?

posted by: V on January 25, 2011  2:26pm

New Haven’s snow clearing has been substandard.  Many streets are essentially one lane because all the parking spots are under 3-4 feet of snow, and people then park in the travel lanes.  There are no right-turn or left-turn lanes to speak of.

posted by: robn on January 25, 2011  3:20pm



posted by: Snowman on January 25, 2011  4:03pm

We need the City to enforce a “hard” parking ban. That means if the ban is on the odd side of the street and your car is parked there, you get towed plain and simple. The City should have done this with the first storm, now they (and we) are playing catch up. City officials please grow a pair and let’s get this done!!!

posted by: john on January 25, 2011  4:10pm

‘The new rule isn’t a parking ban, “in any way shape or form,” Weissberg said.’

Good luck with it, then. Since people around here seem think red lights are a mere suggestion, why do you think they will move the cars? And it only takes one car parked on the wrong side to mess up the whole street from a plowing perspective. The snow sits there and freezes and that’s it.

This is why the next NH mayoral election needs a “law and order” candidate—Say, Rudy, if the GOP presidential nomination doesn’t work out, will you consider ousting “law-ignorer(s)” DeStefano, et al.? Yes, my friends, you need license plates on both the back AND the front of your Beamers and Benzs.

posted by: Barbara on January 25, 2011  4:36pm

The problem with the last big storm is that we all knew from past years to put our cars on the even side of the street the night before the predicted early-morning storm, but the mayor’s morning robocall told us to put cars o the ODD side. At that point there was already a foot of snow on the car. Then the next day the robocall said to put the cars on the other side, but it really didn’t matter since no plowing was done for three days.
OK - now we know it’s even - and do we move cars the next day so that, in an ideal world, plows can clear that side? I like the idea of correlating it to the calendar date-

posted by: robn on January 25, 2011  4:52pm

If you like odd even parking correlated to the date, please vote for it here. SeeClickFix issues are monitored and responded to by city departments.

posted by: V on January 25, 2011  6:14pm

john, “Since people around here seem think red lights are a mere suggestion, why do you think they will move the cars?
. . .
Yes, my friends, you need license plates on both the back AND the front of your Beamers and Benzs.”

You hit two of my top New Haven pet peeves.
I moved here, read the law, went to the dealer, paid for the parts, then installed a front license plate.  How hard is it for everyone else?  How do they all get away with it?  It infuriates me.

posted by: john on January 25, 2011  6:51pm

AV: “How do they all get away with it?  It infuriates me.”

They get away with it in part because there is utterly no enforcement on the local level, which undoubtedly contributes to [but can’t technically be said to cause] a culture of lawlessness. Amazingly, an NHPD dispatcher once suggested to me that towing illegally parked vehicles (that dangerously blocked traffic, e.g.), would be paramount to “picking on someone.”  Uh-huh. Draw your own conclusions as to why there is [political?] fear of doing the right thing here. 

Now, try the license plate thing anywhere in Massachusetts and see how long you last without a ticket. Not long. Come to think of it, they also know how to plow snow in Massachusetts. Hmm…

posted by: pdh on January 26, 2011  7:47am

Compounding citizens’ lack of cooperation with snow emergency parking rules has been the city’s peculiar snow removal priorities. Last week, heavy equipment went through East Rock side streets between Orange and Whitney clearing from curb to curb. But major thoroughfares like Orange, Whitney, Edwards, and Livingston remained obstructed with mountains to snow and cars that had not been moved since the first of the year. Surely it’s more important to clear these thoroughfares than minor by-ways like Linden!! (BTW, I live on a minor by-way—Lawrence bet. Whitney and St. Ronan. It is nearly impassable. But I’d rather have to struggle down Lawrence than to spend 45 minutes getting from there to Broadway!)

posted by: john on January 26, 2011  1:07pm

@pdh: agreed. same on edgewood from top to bottom.

posted by: Mum on January 26, 2011  1:12pm

A lot of folks don’t have driveways and there isn’t enough street parking to accommodate odd/even bans during a storm in some parts of the city.  Maybe someone should check in with garages or lots to see if they can get a special storm rate to get these cars out of the way and the roads plowed.

Also, snow piles in medians and at intersections are becoming increasingly dangerous.

posted by: Philly Born on January 26, 2011  3:07pm

Snow storms in Philadelphia brought out the front end loaders and dump trucks.  All the snow would be dumped in either the Delaware or Schuylkill rivers.  I still can’t figure out why the city doesn’t truck the snow down to Long Wharf and pitch it into the sound.  Sounds reasonable to me.

There are still cars on East Rock that are covered and on the street from the first major storm.  These people should be towed/fined.

posted by: Andrew Davis on January 26, 2011  4:08pm

My major gripe with the snow plowing is when the city starts clearing the roads.  You don’t start when the storm is over.  By then, you’re way too late.  And if some roads are too small, then you buy smaller snow plows for them.  My wife works in the Dixwell neighborhood (on Lilac street), and it still hasn’t been plowed from the storm a few weeks ago.

New Haven is over 400 years old, and winter came every single year.  Why has it not learned?

posted by: SP on January 26, 2011  4:10pm

Dumping the snow in the sound might not be a good idea because the snow that gets plowed includes salt and other road grit that could be dangerous to what wildlife remains in the sound.

I totally agree with Midwesterner and will vote for coordinating parking with the calendar date on seeclickfix.  What a simple and sensible solution!  Also agree that it needs to be a hard ban…they tow cars for street sweeping!

Also disagree with the article on the state of the roads being “largely clear.”  I’d say they’re passable at best.  I live on Wooster street, and it’s a total mess.  There are huge mounds of snow on either side which take up valuable parking space.  In some cases the mounds are so big that they obstruct the central lane on the street, which means you have run a slalom race to get from one end of the street to the other.  Throughout the city, left or right turn only lanes are blocked, creating congestion and confusion.  Too bad there aren’t 4 or 5 colleges in the area full of bright young civil and environmental engineers who might be more than willing to solve the snow removal problems for little to no money.