By Ron Sanders, WBZ-TV

METHUEN (CBS) — It’s a piece of real estate known as a “snow farm” and Methuen public works crews are raising a bumper crop. Actually, the large mountain of snow near the D.P.W. yard may have a few bumpers buried in it. That’s because it’s comprised of snow removed from streets to make room for more from the sky.

A front end loader and about two dozen other pieces of heavy equipment have been moving snow from streets and snow banks, putting it in dump trucks and taking it to the snow farm.

“What we’re doing right now are streets that are confined to one lane of traffic that have a lot of traffic, certainly not the small side streets, but the heavily travelled ones,” explained Raymond DiFiore, Methuen’s Public Works Director.

WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.

Methuen Police have to direct traffic for snow removal operations on busy streets which is why much of the work is being done overnight. But the heavy equipment operators have to be careful of some snow banks in which large objects like cars are buried. Some lanes on some streets are buried in snow.

Safety islands have become snow islands which, combined with snow banks alongside streets, clog main arteries. “And we’re the Lipitor,” remarks DiFiore. “So we’ve just got to make sure it gets cleaned up, make sure it’s done safely so the people can get to where they want to go.”

Snow banks at many intersections have gotten so tall that, when you pull up to the corner, you become invisible and so does the traffic. You have to inch your way out to make sure you don’t have a collision.

“Instead of edging out and creating a car accident, the front end loader will just fold the mound backwards and fold it over for the visibility of the oncoming traffic,” said DiFiore.

“Right now we’re just stuffing it in every crevice we can find,” said Lawrence D.P.W. Director John Isensee. A Lawrence D.P.W. crew found space behind a guard rail Tuesday afternoon as a front-end loader carved away snow banks and cleared storm drains.

“We’re very limited in our space. We do not have a lot of vacant lots and/or ball fields that we would be inclined to put that material in,” said Isensee.

“My God. Let me tell you something. I don’t know. It’s been a long time I haven’t seen so much snow like this,” said Orlando Vega of Lawrence.

Methuen has the advantage of open space to which large amounts of snow can be taken at a lower cost. The D.P.W. director in Lawrence says he would have to pay contractors to haul snow out of town which is why he favors the pushback strategy. “It’s certainly less costly. We can do that with our own folks, in house. We don’t have to haul material via private contractors,” he said.

Lawrence’s public works director said snow isn’t the only thing he has in abundance when it comes to “windowsill supervisors,” but in order to get the job done and get main streets clear, he prefers not to seek approval for his strategy but asks forgiveness instead.


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