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Snow Fall in Cambridge Sets Record

Blizzard of 1995-96 Busts City Budget, Makes for Winter of Tough Work

By C.r. Mcfadden

On the seventh day, the Lord rested. But employees of the Cambridge Works Department--who manage the city's snow removal services--were not so lucky this winter.

"The weather just killed us," said Richard J. Medieros, chief of operations for the department. "We were out virtually every week, all hours of the night, whenever."

With massive storms striking the city at regular intervals, the city witnessed the fall of most snowfall records and also spent more money than ever in history.

Although only $172,000 was allocated in the city's budget, Cambridge spent a total of $750,000 on snow removal, salt and sand and another $160,000 in overtime for city employees, according to Medieros.

The city can handle most snow storms simply by salting roads, Medieros said. But when accumulation tops three inches, Cambridge's 30 plows take to the streets "with the metal [plows] on the roads," he said.

Medieros said the snowstorm three weeks ago--which dumped 15 inches of fluffy white stuff on the city within 48 hours--was the toughest storm of the season.

"There was a steady mix of ice and snow," he said. "Those are the killers compared to the storms that just come and go."

Officials said the most difficult part of the snow removal process is navigating around the cars that are parked on the city's narrow, winding streets.

Joseph M. Butscher, a resident of the Agassiz neighborhood, said his car was towed in mid-January because it was sticking out from the curb and prevented plows from getting past.

"Sometimes you can't win with this city," said Butscher, who complained about about Cambridge's notorious dearth of neighborhood parking.

Mayor Sheila T. Russell, however, commended the public works department for its efforts throughout the season. Without effective snow removal service, she said, the city would become paralyzed.

"Considering all the cars we have to work with, we do a good job," Russell said.

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