City officials say they are furious about the job private contractor plow crews have done to clear snow from the city's streets, and Mayor Jeannette McCarthy said she plans to “rethink” how the city plows snow.
“There is no excuse,” McCarthy told Waltham Patch about the shape private contractor plow crews have left many city streets in days after the storm. "I’m going to rethink how I run the private system. I'm not going to run it the way it's always been run.”
"It is my responsibility ultimately," she added.
As of Monday, Feb. 11, many Waltham residents said they were still upset about the poor condition of their streets, according to comments left on Waltham Patch’s Facebook page. Streets in surrounding communities, such as Newton, were much cleaner than Waltham, according to Facebook users.
McCarthy said she blames the private contractors, who plow all of the city’s streets, for leaving roads in rough shape, but added they hit some unexpected snags. Some contractors had equipment failures and in other cases some trucks had no drivers to operate them. McCarthy said she was told some private drivers were, at times, too tired to drive and needed rest.
"As soon as we got them available, they were put out [to plow],” McCarthy said.
In some instances, private contractors performed well in some areas, but poorly in other parts of the city, McCarthy said. While some of the roads appear to not have been salted, McCarthy said the city indeed pre-treated main roads, but did not reach many side streets.
"Some neighborhoods were perfectly good. Other neighborhoods were pitiful,” McCarthy said.
As a result of the performance, McCarthy said she plans to meet with the private contractors and Consolidated Public Works Director Michael Chiasson to review the issues.
"If anybody didn’t perform properly, they are out," McCarthy said.
The City Council plans to reqeust Chiasson discuss the issues at a future meeting, according to City Councilor Ken Doucette.
For a list of a which contractors plow which roads, click on the PDF in the photo box to the right.
In total, McCarthy said her office received around 80 complaints on Monday, Feb. 11, from residents, and about 10 complimentary calls to thank the city for the plowing jobs, McCarthy said. She said she did not receive any calls about the city’s public works drivers, who only plow city-owned property, McCarthy said.
City Councilor Robert Logan also said, on his Twitter feed, he was angry with the plowing performance.
“In 23 [years] on Council, I have never seen worse plowing job, nor have I ever received as many complaints on any issue!,” Logan tweeted.
When asked about previous requests to purchase more and better city-owned plows and trucks, McCarthy said City Purchasing Agent Joe Pedulla is creating a list of vehicles and their current condition to determine which ones they city will stop using.
At least one idea to reform the current system is off the table. McCarthy said she would not consider eliminating the use of private contractors because the city would have to purchase more trucks and expand its public works department.