City officials will step up efforts this weekend to remove the snow that's been clogging streets and causing traffic backups, Mayor Pedro Segarra said Friday.
Officials have created a route map that targets specific streets where accumulated snow has narrowed lanes, he said. They include Albany Avenue, Park Street, Blue Hills Avenue, Main Street and Wethersfield and Maple avenues.
Crews will be out Saturday through Tuesday plowing those areas and others, Segarra said.
"We've tried to do the best [we could] in terms of widening the roads," he said, addressing reporters at city hall Friday. "But we can do better. It's a very difficult task to take this amount of snow and dispose of it."
The city so far has spent about $350,000 of its $730,206 snow budget for the current fiscal year, officials said. That figure does not include the money spent on Friday's snowstorm, which dropped up to 6 additional inches of snow in parts of the state.
The city has spent $78,000 in overtime pay related to winter weather, Segarra said.
If the snow budget is exhausted before the end of the season, he said, the city will transfer unused money from other departments to cover any snow-related costs. It also may have to dip into its "rainy-day" fund, an emergency reserve that current holds close to $20 million.
City Hall has been inundated with complaints about snow-clogged streets since the record-breaking storm that dumped two feet of snow across Connecticut last week, Segarra said. He said he has responded by listening to people and discussing the city's efforts.
"I've learned a lot from this snowstorm," the mayor said. "We need to have a better capacity [for] deploying immediately during major storms and get word out early to coordinate with the state and CT Transit."
City officials are considering hiring private contractors to clear large mounds of snow that are blocking bus stops. CT Transit workers, including one bus driver, have reported seeing people climb over large snow banks trying to board the buses.
Segarra said he also will try to better educate residents on the importance of obeying parking bans and city regulations related to snow removal.
The police department issued 641 tickets and towed 140 vehicles for improper parking during last week's ban, which lasted for more than a day. Authorities also arrested 10 people for plowing snow into the streets, which is illegal in Hartford.
"I was impressed by the number of number of people who chose to ignore the parking bans," Segarra said. "We need more cooperation, or that lack of cooperation is going to have to be met with more ticketing and tows."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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