BOSTON (CBS) – If you live around here, you’ve got your snowstorm routine down to a science, from the boots to space savers and snow removal. By now, you know residents are responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of their properties within a few hours after the last snowflake, or they could get a ticket.
WBZ’s I-Team found some government agencies ignoring those rules. “You’re going to take a chance and fall on your head,” said Joe Crane, as he made his way down an unshoveled sidewalk along an MBTA facility on busy Dorchester Avenue in South Boston.
“It’s really hard,” added Brooke Smith. “I just walked in the street for a little while.”
The I-Team obtained records showing the MBTA owes about $30,000 in unpaid tickets and late fees over more than a year for various Boston Public Works violations. Most are for not shoveling sidewalks.
“I’ve almost fallen a couple of times,” said Kathryn Boland, as she crossed the street to avoid the snow- and ice-covered sidewalk along an undeveloped MBTA lot in Jamaica Plain.
“Very slippery in places. Very bumpy in other places,” said Bob Henry, who held tight to the fence as he made his way through. It’s a spot that has earned a pile of tickets, still unpaid from last winter.
Meanwhile, Boston residents are on the hook to either pay, or fight City Hall, like 80-year-old Lorraine Walsh did in front of her South Boston home that also houses her brother Thomas Walsh’s insurance company. “My sister left about a 6-square-inch, 1-inch-deep pile of snow on the sidewalk, and she got a $500 fine for that.”
The MBTA, which just proposed a fare hike, in part to address its $37 million debt, sent a statement saying, “…no payments have been made to this point.” It also said its staff “performed a thorough analysis of snow clearing responsibilities last year, and we now have site maps of all locations with clear delineation of responsibility.” Still, the I-Team found more than a half dozen unshoveled sidewalks along its properties in January.
The I-Team found the State Department of Transportation also owes more than $1,600 in outstanding fines. A MassDOT spokesperson said the agency is working with the city on the issue.
“We expect everyone to clean the streets,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “We’re asking everyone to please stay on top of this because the number one issue, it’s not about the fines. It’s about accessibility for people, making sure people have access to sidewalks.”
Simon McDonough, who lives in South Boston, walks to work every day along a lengthy unshoveled sidewalk in front of MBTA property. He says it’s been a problem for years. “It’s people’s lives. You can see the footprints. People have been walking on this.” He walked behind his friend in the street, hoping to protect her from traffic, which they felt was safer than slipping on the ice-covered snow. “People have to go to work.”
On the same day in Mattapan, the I-Team found Francis Barrios hacking at ice on her sidewalk to break it up before shoveling. She spent more than two hours on it. She says the MBTA should do the same. “…the sidewalks, the stairs,” she said. “Everything that’s safe for the kids walking on the way to school.”
A Boston Public Works spokesperson said the city is in talks with the MBTA and MassDOT and expects to have the combined $31,585 in unpaid fines resolved soon.