EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 12, 2013

Cleaning up after a blizzard takes time

Blizzard leaves a mess behind for plow operators

Highway officials want to see some of the snow melt, just not too fast.

They would like to see snowbanks shrink for visibility and space concerns, but too much too fast could mean flooded streets.

“Right now, I’d rather things stayed the way they are for the next couple of days and then it can melt all it wants,” said Rick Russell,director of public works in Salem.

Temperatures are expected to reach the high 30s this week, according to the National Weather Service.

“Our main concern is visibility and safety,” Russell said. “We want to make sure we push back the snowbanks so people can see when they’re turning.”

Crews were out salting yesterday. Route 28 was still a problem, Russell said, with large snowbanks encroaching on the road in some places and reducing travel space.

He was happy with how his crews handled the nearly 2 feet of snow that fell — and others appreciated their efforts, too.

“In the 19 years I’ve been here, this storm has been one of the only ones that received so many positive compliments from residents and businessmen,” Russell said. “We aren’t out there for pizza delivery cars, we are out there to keep roads open for emergency vehicles so police and fire can respond to residents and businesses. We are really proud we were able to do that.”

In Derry, crews were ready to continue the cleanup yesterday. But a wintry mix during the morning commute slowed them down.

“We were ready to start dealing with some of the sidewalks (yesterday) and start getting people get back to normal lives,” said Mike Fowler, Derry’s public works director. “But the 1 inch of snow this morning set us back a bit.”

It set some drivers back, too.

Highways were crowded with people returning to work yesterday morning when snow, then freezing rain slowed things down. The speed limit on Interstate 93 was lowered to 45 mph as visibility was reduced and road surfaces became slippery.

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