Snow & Ice Removal Operations

Because of the high costs associated with removal operations, snow piles will be removed only when necessary from streets and municipal parking lots in the downtown area. Snow accumulations may also be removed from heavily-traveled streets, as time and budget constraints permit. Any removal operations performed on streets are for the sole purpose of facilitating the safe and proper flow of vehicular traffic.

Snow removal operations in the downtown area shall generally be performed at night in order to avoid heavy traffic and congested parking. Snow removal operations on other streets shall generally be performed during the day in order to accommodate the residents on those streets. Rotary snow blowers, front end loaders, motor graders, backhoe-loaders, and dump trucks shall be used for such operations. Private equipment and operators may be hired to assist, but only when deemed necessary.

Sidewalks & Parking Areas
The DPW is responsible for the control and removal of ice and snow accumulations from sidewalks and steps at city property. The current budget provides that priority areas including sidewalks on Main Street, main roads, principle bridges and near schools will be cleared within seventy-two (72) hours of the end of a winter storm.

Sidewalks at Private Property
Ordinance Number 157-33 of The City Code requires private property owners or tenants to clear snow from public sidewalks abutting their property as follows:
  • B. Duty imposed.
    1. The owner of any real estate abutting any sidewalk within the City shall remove or cause to be removed any snow and/or ice which has accumulated thereon, and if the ice cannot be removed completely, any remaining ice shall be made level and shall be covered with sand, salt or other suitable substance to prevent slipping. This section shall be enforced by either the Chief of Police or the Commissioner of Public Works
    2. The owner must clear and sand the sidewalk so as to create a walking path of at least 36 inches or the width of the sidewalk, whichever is smaller, within the first 24 hours after the storm has abated
Placing Snow in Streets
Ordinance 137-33 also makes it unlawful to place snow in public ways:
  • C. Placing snow on public ways. No person, other than a municipal employee performing work for the City in the normal course of his or her municipal employment, shall place or cause to be placed any snow or ice on or into the public way
Parking Areas
Plowing of city-owned parking lots and garages is performed by DPW. Plowing of sidewalks and parking areas at Fitchburg Public Schools is the responsibility of the School Department. Plowing of roads and parking areas at the Water Division and Wastewater Divisions is the responsibility of those divisions and costs are paid by the respective Enterprise Funds. 

Catch Basins
Storm water catch basins located in key drainage areas will be opened within a reasonable time following snowfalls, if temperatures over 32 degrees Fahrenheit are expected soon thereafter. Timing will depend to a great extent upon short-range weather forecasts. Key catch basins are located at bridges, John Fitch Highway and Ashburnham Street near Moran Playground.

Ice Build-Up
Certain roads in the City are subject to ice build-up, usually due to groundwater flowing from ledge outcrops or retaining walls. These areas require constant attention during cold weather, regardless of snowfall. Experience has shown that it is necessary to scrape ice off the pavement with a grader and to keep the area treated with salt.