Municipal crews keep eye on winter budgets as they try to play catch-up

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We’re seeing more sun, and the air is a bit warmer, but the leftovers from a harsh winter are still clinging to many streets and sidewalks.

Now as the clocks tick toward spring, municipal crews are trying to play catch-up, and keeping an eye on the costs of the winter maintenance.

Seventy-year-old Ruth Turner is pushing her walker down a south end street, not because she wants to.

“Where else am I gonna walk,” said Turner.  I’m not going to walk on the sidewalk and break my neck, no. So, I have a choice, walk on the sidewalk, break my neck and end up in the hospital, or walk on the streets and take a chance.”

City crews began clearing streets in the neighbourhood on Wednesday, trying to remove both snow and the anchor ice that is still clinging to the sidewalk.

“It’s hard on people, it’s hard on equipment,  it’s hard on cars – everything,” said Saint John Coun. John MacKenzie.

He says this winter has been exceptional, because so much of the clean-up and clearing, has to be done by the big machines.

“It has been challenging because a lot of the work has to be done by heavy equipment because the ice is so thick,” said MacKenzie.

The same is true in Halifax, where more than $20 million has been spent on winter operations so far this season. That compares with $18 million spent  during the same period last year.

The city of Fredericton has received some of the worst of the maritime winter.    

“Almost every storm that we had this year had some component of freezing rain, ice pellets, or rain mixed in with the snow,” said Mike Walker, the manager of Fredericton’s roadway operations.“That makes things very challenging for our staff for our citizens.”

In the days to come, crews in Fredericton will be concentrating on widening streets, and improving line of sight around corners.

Crews in Saint John will be clearing narrow streets and sidewalks where spring still seems a long way off.

“There’s a lot of people with walkers now I notice,” Turner said. “And they’re walking on the streets. I’ve heard people and pedestrians say, get off the street. Well, where you gonna walk?”

The city of Saint John was concentrating on three of the most clogged streets in the south end: Elliot Row, Horsfield Street and Harding Street.

No parking signs were posted to allow crews to get at the late winter clean-up.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.





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