Tuesday storm causes challenges for Portland plows, budget

Storm a challenge for Portland snow removal crews

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — This is Maine, and we are all used to a good blizzard, but Tuesday night's storm caused trouble for many drivers, including plow drivers for the city of Portland

The city sent out this tweet in the early evening, warning commuters that it was tough to keep up with the snow and that they were doing the best they can.

Spring and Commercial streets in Portland on Wednesday still had huge mounds of snow in the middle.

The city intentionally plows them like this so that people can park, but said they'll be taking a second night after Tuesday's storm to clean up.

“It was a tough storm,” said Portland Public Works operations manager Steven Earley. “We had whiteout conditions, blizzard conditions. So it was a tough storm for the crews.”

He said that for many streets in an old and small city like Portland, plows can't even get through until a parking ban is in effect and cars are off the road.

The priority is the main roads for emergency vehicles, but in Tuesday night's storm, there were unexpected challenges.

“When we started getting into the residential streets, that's when the heavy bands of snow arrived," Earley said. "It filled up so fast we had to get back to the main roads in the afternoon so we could open them up for commuter traffic that evening."

Quite a few cars got stuck on the evening commute, but Earley said that once the evening commute ended and plows could work freely, it “went really well, the crews did a great job. Really outstanding work.”

Aside from the tough storms and long nights, there has been one more challenge this winter: the budget.

“We went over budget at the end of February,” Earley said. “Of course, we don't have the totals yet for this storm. We're not way over, but we're over.”

Earley said it's not necessarily the total snowfall, but rather the number of storms that have put them over budget.

“We budget for eight plowing storms,” he said. “This one yesterday was our 12th plowing storm of the year. And they've been difficult storms. So some of them got real expensive.”

There will be a "Yellow Zone" parking ban Wednesday night in Portland in just the business part of the city.

Copyright 2017 WCSH


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