Municipalities busy clearing the way for normalcy after storm

New London – New London lifted its state of emergency declaration at 12:34 p.m. Wednesday as plowing continued, and the downtown parking ban is expected to end at 8 p.m., Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said. City offices will be open as normal Thursday morning.

“We are making very good progress, considering the amount of snow we received,”

Finizio said Wednesday afternoon. “Our crews were able to punch a line down each street in the city and now they’re headed back to address areas where we have stronger difficulties. We started the work downtown with private contractors very early this morning and will be working continuously until about 8 p.m. when we expect to finish.”

Plowing crews from Bridgeport were scheduled to head back to their home city at noon today after extending their shifts to help the New London public works department clear roads, parking lots and dig out the city’s schools.

Bridgeport roadway foreman Joe Puccio, who with his four crews started a shift at 7 p.m. Tuesday, said that over breakfast he told New London officials his crews could stay if needed.

“I made the offer,” he said, as he neared the end of the overnight shift at a municipal parking lot New London and Bridgeport workers had just cleared across from Fred’s Shanty on Pequot Avenue.

New London Director of Public Works Tim Hanser said Wednesday morning at around 9 a.m. that the central third of the city — referring to the part north of Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and south of Broad Street — is the hardest to clear due to the high number of narrow roadways.

Driving through the city at around 11 a.m., it could be observed that main thoroughfares such as Eugene O’Neill Drive and State Street were relatively clear. Side streets off of Montauk Avenue and Pequot Avenue appeared to have been plowed but still were covered in a layer of snow.

Hanser said the city was not as hard hit in the recent storm as it was when the storm Nemo occurred in February 2013, but that clearing work was of comparable difficulty nonetheless. He mentioned that the lightness of the snow made it ideal for snow drifts.

Snow is being dumped in a location called Parcel J, an empty lot located off Bank Street. Hanser said he anticipated no other dumping locations would be necessary.

He said it would take a few days for things to get back to normal in terms of travel, and about a week for full cleanup to be completed.

In Waterford as well, clearing of side roads is lagging behind that of main roads, according to First Selectman Daniel Steward. He said the state roads and main town roads such as Cross Road are pretty clear.

“The roads are passable. They’re not perfect yet. We continue to work on them,” he said.

He said private contractors remained in town to help with clearing. The town’s Emergency Operations Center was closed Tuesday and municipal offices were open today.

Town of Groton Public Works Director Gary Schneider said that all roads in Groton had been open and that plans were to work Thursday on clearing sidewalks. He said sidewalks near schools would be prioritized.

He said crews dumped about 300 cubic yards of snow from the Groton side of downtown Mystic into the Mystic River this morning. The state announced during the storm it would allow municipalities to dump snow into water.

Schneider praised town crews for their work and residents for staying off the roads. He said that overall cleanup went well.

The only challenge he said was “it never stopped snowing — snowing and blowing.”

Finizio said that because there is very little space to put the snow, New London crews are using front-end loaders and Bobcats to put the snow in dump trucks, which will haul the snow to either the Fort Trumbull peninsula or the empty lot at the corner of Bank and Howard streets, Finizio said.

Outside of the downtown neighborhood, Finizio said, crews will begin the process of widening roads to something more than a single lane.

“It’s going to be difficult because just to get a single lane down each street puts a significant snow pile on either side of that lane,” he said. “To move those piles back will take a good amount of time. But we’re going to keep at it day after day to get it to where we know it needs to be and to where we want it to be. Getting access to every road first was our priority.”

Despite the efforts of city workers in New London, many of whom have been working nearly around the clock since Monday morning, and assistance from others, Finizio expects that it will be days before the city gets back to normal.

“There is more to be done because of a storm of this size, but we are where we would like to be at this point,” he said. “We’re going to keep on working on it until we finish digging out. But it will still take a couple more days until we see any return to normalcy.”

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