A look at how various towns deal with snow-covered sidewalks
Pedestrian safety after a storm is always a priority, but communities take different approaches to sidewalk clearing.
Sidewalks in Hudson are cleared by a highway department employee manning a small Bobcat with plow attachment, according to Steve Malizia, the town's administrator.
"The first priority is to get the roads done, then we do the sidewalks," he said.
Depending on the size of the storm, the work can usually be completed within a day or two, Malizia said.
The cost of running the Bobcat is minimal. Malizia estimated the town budgets $350,000 to $400,000 for snow removal, including sand, salt and overtime expenses.
The town has plenty of resources left to battle the upcoming storm, Malizia said.
The town of Hollis hires a private contractor to clear the sidewalks in its historic village, according to town administrator Troy Brown.
The work is typically done as part of the cleanup efforts after the storm, Brown said. The contractor uses a commercial sidewalk snow blower and charges a fee for each cleaning event, Brown said.
The city removes snow from sidewalks along main arterials and routes used by children walking to school.
"We encourage walking, especially for kids going to school, so that's why we concentrate first on those runs that are predominantly used for children who are walking to school," said Steve Parkinson, director of public works.
The city owns four "trackless" units, rubber-tired sidewalk tractors to which blades or blowers can be attached.
Some sidewalks are cleared as plow trucks move through the streets during a storm event, but others are not cleared until full snow removal happens, within days afterwards.
"We have about four different routes that are ongoing with four different tractors out there doing the work," Parkinson said. "Some areas . where we tend to remove snow totally, might not get addressed until we do snow removal."
Many sidewalks do not get plowed at all. Parkinson said of about 75 miles of sidewalk in the city, only about 10 miles of which gets plowed.
The cost of sidewalk snow removal is not broken down specifically, but is included as part of general snow-removal operations.
While keeping roadways clear during and after a storm is the No. 1 priority, for Bedford and Goffstown, sidewalk maintenance isn't far behind.
"Sidewalks are a priority," said Jim Stanford, Bedford's director of Public Works. "We're getting to be a walking community."
Areas with sidewalks maintained by the town include the town offices area, Nashua Road in the area of Bedford High School, the South River Road business district and parts of Hawthorne Drive.
The area near the Bedford Village Common is maintained by an outside contractor, Stanford said.
Bedford has one sidewalk tractor with different attachments, which is 10 years old, and Stanford said a newer one has been requested in this year's budget.
Both Stanford and Goffstown DPW Director Carl Quiram said much of their decision-making in terms of sidewalk clearing depends on fickle New England weather - the timing, type and intensity of a storm, in addition to whether schools are closed as a result, all factor in to when the sidewalks are cleared.
"Main roads take priority," Quiram said. "But we try to get somebody out to clear sidewalks as quickly as we can."
If a storm arrives on a weekend, Quiram said, the department may wait to begin clearing the town's 15 miles of sidewalk.
"If it's a Tuesday night, we'll get the sidewalks going earlier," he said. "Schools get the highest priority."
Stanford said clearing sidewalks in the vicinity of school zones is a focus in Bedford as well.
"That's a priority in any storm event," he said.
According to Quiram, Goffstown utilizes two Bobcats with snow blower attachments on the front, but they come with other attachments, such as sweepers and mowers, so that the machines can be used year round.
"They're a lot more versatile," Quiram said.
The cost involved to maintain the sidewalks isn't separately tracked in either town.
Quiram said his department tries to clear sidewalks quickly so that shoppers can get to area businesses, both on Main Street and Pinardville.
Neither town has faced litigation as a result of a person falling on a town maintained sidewalk.
Sunday News correspondents Gretyl Macalaster, Julie Hanson and Kathy Remillard contributed to this story.