by Chris Chase
Coastal Journal staff
BATH — A pair of substantial snowstorms hit the area this week, leaving behind over a foot of snow and a substantial mess for crews to clean up in the first larger snow events of the season.
The storms, which took place on Thursday and then Saturday, brought snow, sleet, and a bit of misery to residents as they wrestled with the poor driving conditions and piles of snow left on sidewalks and in driveways.
According to Peter Owen, the public works director for Bath, their crews were ready to go well in advance of the storm.
“It starts with calling a crew in as soon as it starts snowing, the trucks are always ready,” said Owen.
As soon as the snow flies, the Bath Police Department – which is always on duty – notifies public works, which sends out the crews.
With the snow last Thursday falling for almost 24 hours, crews were out around the clock keeping the streets clear.
“A storm like this, it’s pretty much scrape around the clock and put out salt to keep ice from forming on the roads,” said Owen.
According to Owen, one snowstorm is pretty much like another, with the crews handling the snow removal and road clearing being used to the routine.
Even though the last winter season was light on snow, according to Owen, the city still used roughly the same amount of resources.
“It’s a little misleading,” said Owen. “Even though we didn’t have a lot of snow, we had a lot of minor events. As soon as you get snow in the air, we’re putting salt down and we’re pre-treating.”
Sidewalk clearing has been a renewed focus for Bath’s city crews, because in previous years there have been complaints about the state of a few of them. With nearly 40 miles of sidewalks in the city, many times streets with two sidewalks will only see one of them cleared to save time and in order to ensure as many streets have sidewalks available as possible. However, most of downtown Bath not the city’s responsibility.
“Downtown businesses are responsible for sidewalks,” said Owen. “The property owners are responsible for clearing them.”
Owen urges residents to keep the winter parking bans, which last until March, in mind over the winter months. Normally it is just a ticket, but if it snows and crews are unable to work due to a vehicle, it will get towed at the owner’s expense.
Cars aren’t the only problems the crews sometimes face. When snow covers up objects that got left underneath, it can cause lots of problems for the equipment.
“Usually when we start to do snow removal, we use a giant snow blower,” said Owen. “Lots of people put rocks on the edge of their sidewalks for decoration or other things. If we pick it up, it will completely destroy our blower.”
Owen asks any homeowners to keep objects away from the road, otherwise snow removal might become a lot slower after expensive equipment gets destroyed.
With the end of winter months away, the crews will likely become a regular sight on the roads once more.
“We do the best we can,” said Owen.