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Highway budgets take serious hit from snowfall

Half of Sturbridge snow funds were used before storm

A backhoe removes snow from a parking lot in front of JCPenney in Sturbridge. The town received about two feet of snow. Kevin Flanders. (click for larger version)
January 16, 2011
Last Wednesday's nor'easter marked the largest snow event in central Massachusetts since the Blizzard of 1978, dumping between 16 and 25 inches of snow in most area towns over a 15 hour timeframe.

Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency Tuesday night, Jan. 11, and many schools and businesses were closed in advance of the storm, giving crews an opportunity to clear sparsely populated roadways. The majority of the precipitation fell from midnight to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, which also ensured that few motorists were traveling during the height of the storm.

"The clean-up effort went very smoothly because most people stayed off the roads until Thursday morning," said George Knight, an official from the Brimfield Department of Public Works.

Aside from a few minor spinouts and collisions, there were no significant motor vehicle accidents in the area thanks to the quick responses from road crews. According to highway department officials in Sturbridge, Southbridge, Brimfield and Holland, the snow was cleared from all major roadways by Thursday morning. Crews then turned their attention to parking lots and secondary streets.

"The timing of the storm allowed us to concentrate on roadways without much traffic interference," Knight added.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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