Snowplows Turn to Sweepers

City Employees Glad to Have Finished This Winter's Work

Cambridge city employees are no fools. On April 1 they traded in their snow plows and began sweeping the city's 125 miles of streets.

Although all employees of the public works division of streets and sidewalks spend their winter months on call to plow or sand at a moment's notice, their jobs became more varied with the start of spring.

"The same person you see driving a plow in the winter time is now doing tree work, raking leaves or fixing pot holes," said Robert Keating, a supervisor at the Department of Public Works.

Regardless of the weather, Keating said his workers are always busy working to keep the roads clean. He said their responsibilities include everything from ploughing, sweeping and sanding to repairing the more than 700 "lane miles" which make up the city's roads.

Cambridge owns all of its winter plowing equipment, but the city contracts street sweeping through American Sweeping, said William Frazier the director of the city's streets and sidewalks division.

During winters with heavy snowfall, Frasier said his men are on call 24 hours a day to plow sand, or salt.

"When a big storm comes," Frasier said, "everybody is called in."

Frasier said his employees are particularly glad to be finished plowing this year, which had one of the heaviest accumulations of snow this century.

Now that spring has arrived, Keating warns, the street sweeping has begun. Street sweepers clean every street in the city at least once each month, Frasier says.

Although sweeping times are posted on all city streets, Frasier said, it is necessary to contract three outside towing firms to remove cars parked on streets scheduled to be swept.

Philip Bard of Phil's Towing says his company tows an average of 400 cars each month because of street cleaning.