Snow Plowing Operations

Winthrop Snow Plow

When snow falls, it is imperative that we clear the streets and sidewalks as quickly and efficiently as possible to ensure transportation safety as well as to restore our already limited curbside parking.  Plowing and snow removal will always be impacted by such unavoidable impediments as equipment failures and breakdowns, equipment maintenance and refueling, necessary crew breaks, vehicles disabled in deep snow, and the unpredictable severity of New England’s winter storms.  We also realize that winter can provide additional challenges to our residents, beyond those caused by snowfall.

Plowing snow from Winthrop's streets is a formidible task.  The hours can be extraordinarily long, and in Winthrop, unlike some communities, most snow and ice control functions are performed by Town employees.  We realize that in an operation of this nature, there are bound to be complaints and requests for additional service.

All complaints are tracked by DPW.  Calls for service should be avoided early in the storm since it may take several hours for plows to make their way to the street in question.  Keeping this in mind, if you feel a request for service is warranted, please cal the DPW at 617-846-1341.  Calls to other Town departments will not result in faster service.

Remember, driving in winter snowstorms should be avoided whenever possible.  In every winter storm, there are times when road conditions are hazardous despite everyone's best efforts.  Our work to restore safe road conditions is completed more quickly and efficiently when roads are free of traffic and illegally parked vehicles.

The following is a general description of Winthrop's snow plowing plan:

Step One
When precipitation begins, the DPW responds by salting main roads and roadways surrounding school buildings, if school is in session.

Step Two
Plowing begins when there is an accumulation of approximately three inches of snow.  Town employees operating Town equipment are assigned to all routes and may be supplemented by contractors, working under the direction of Town employees.  The department's policy is to plow the full width of the street, curb to curb, during each storm.  However, during heavy snowfall, crews may focus on keeping the center portion of the roadway open for travel and widen the roadway as the snow tapers off, or after snowfall has stopped.  During prolonged snowstorms, it may be necessary for crews to make repeated passes on the main roads to keep them available for emergency access, which may create a delay for the plows getting into the neighborhood streets.

Step Three
Once snowfall has stopped, salt trucks begin post-storm salting as needed.  Main streets are salted to achieve bare pavement, and residential streets are salted if slippery conditions exist.  Plows also widen streets not plowed from curb to curb.  Town parking lots are also cleared.  Snow piles at intersections are pulled away from the corners to improve sight lines if necessary.

While plow drivers try to minimize the amount of snow that gets plowed into driveways, clearing driveway openings is the responsibilty of the property owner.  Plows cannot be lifted as we pass by driveways.  Residents should realize that snow may be plowed into driveways or pushed onto sidewalks several times during snow plowing operations.  You may wish to clear your driveway several times during the storm, or wait until plowing activities have concluded.  Shoveling snow into the street is prohibited by town ordinances.

Important Safety Reminders

  • When driving, please stay 200 feet behind any snowplow, and NEVER pass a plow truck as visibility is limited for the plow operator.
  • Do not allow children to play on or around the street during a storm.  In addition, please make sure that children do not build snow forts or tunnels around areas adjacent to the road in snow banks, including driveway and cul-de-sac banks.  Children's toys and sledding areas should be kept far away from the street.