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Entries in Snow Removal (3)

Thursday
Jan272011

Snowstorms Bust Budgets in Northeast

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- With two more months of winter left and another snowstorm hitting the Northeast, some cities and states have exhausted their budgets for snow removal, causing them to turn to cheaper, more creative ways to dispose of the ice.

In Boston, they've built a mountain of displaced snow 50 feet high and four acres wide.

In Fort Lee, New Jersey, they're using a substance some are referring to as "pickle juice," a salt water mixture called brine that, when sprayed onto the pavement before a big storm, prevents snow from sticking.  The brine also makes it easier to push the snow off of covered roads.

In Syracuse, New York, experts are using beet juice mixed with rock salt to offset the icy aftereffects of the storm.  Beet juice has a high freezing point and doesn't stain roads, making it an ideal solution for towns over their snow budgets.

But while saltwater and beet juice help, they can't stop this winter's onslaught, which has dumped more snow in one month than most places get in two winters.

Boston already has spent two-thirds of $16 million allocated for snow and ice removal for the entire winter, while Worcester, Massachusetts ran through its budget for the whole season and went $300,000 beyond.

New York City exhausted the $38 million it budgeted for the season on the mega-storm that hit the day after Christmas -- four storms ago.

Some states are so far in the red that their leaders are asking for relief from the federal government.  Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is asking FEMA for $53 million in federal assistance because of the Christmas snowstorm.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan132011

US Cities Stagger Under Cost of Clearing Record Snowfalls

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- From Nevada to New York, already-wobbly city budgets are being hit by the heavy cost of shoveling out from under record snowfalls.

A mid-December storm dropped 17.1 inches on St. Paul, Minnesota -- the most in almost 20 years.  The city spread 4,000 tons of salt on 800 miles of streets, added staff and paid overtime.  As a result, the city's public works budget has been snowed under by $1 million more than had budgeted for snow removal.

The figure, says Deputy Mayor Margaret Kelly, likely will rise to $1.3 million.  To pay it, she said, the city will have to dip into a fund used to patch potholes, maintain alleys and cut city grass.  The prospect that the fund could be depleted, she says, makes the rest of winter "challenging."

Things are worse in Minneapolis, which has exceeded its snow budget by $3 million.  It, too, plans to dip into reserve funds to pay the cost.

In Missouri, tight budgets mean snow plow crews are being told to make roads "passable," not necessarily clear.

New York City, hit hard by a late December blizzard, is still recovering and paying.  A spokesman for the mayor's office says that while not all costs have yet been tallied, the final snow bill should come in at around $38 million.  Given that the city's budget gap next year is forecast to be $2.4 billion, those millions will be missed.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan042011

Feds Probe NYC Blizzard Cleanup

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Federal prosecutors are probing whether any sanitation workers committed a conspiracy to commit fraud by purposefully delaying road clearing and snow cleanup following the recent blizzard in New York City, ABC News has learned.

Local prosecutors in the city boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn are also looking into the alleged work slowdown to determine if any lives were lost or anyone was injured, as well as to determine whether state labor laws may have been violated.

A broader probe is underway in Queens, where City Councilman Dan Halloran has repeatedly claimed that sanitation workers, embarrassed by the alleged work stoppage, have come forward to provide information.

"Council member Halloran is pleased that law enforcement is taking this matter as seriously as he is and as all New Yorkers are," Steven Stites, a spokesman for Halloran, told ABC News.

In Queens, officials said, the D.A.'s office is conducting a preliminary probe to see if there is any evidence of criminality, including overtime slips that were improperly filled and documents that falsely stated roads had been cleaned.

"This office is reviewing information provided to it by City Councilman Dan Halloran, among others, with respect to last week's snowstorm and the City's response thereto," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. "At this point, however, we have not reached any conclusions as to whether a formal investigation is warranted."

The city council plans to conduct its own hearing into the city's response to the blizzard on Jan. 10.

New York's Channel 2 News broke the story on the federal probe Monday night.

While federal officials would neither confirm nor deny whether a probe was underway, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office also acknowledged that it was conducting a very narrow probe into a video that allegedly shows workers goofing off for hours.

The video, posted on YouTube, purports to show three sanitation workers spending 11 hours in a donut shop. In another video obtained by ABC News, a sanitation worker is seen sitting idly in a parked snow plow.

Sources in NYC government told ABC News they are angry at the possible role of workers in contributing to the weak response to the blizzard, but were also quick to acknowledge their own poor decisions played a major role in the underwhelming response to the blizzard.

"New York's strongest, the men and women of the Sanitation Department, do an amazing job day in and day out and we are grateful for their service. That said, by all accounts, the collective storm response was not anywhere near up to the standards New Yorkers are accustomed to," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐







ABC News Radio