Icy Roads Vex Falmouth Drivers
By: Christopher Kazarian
As flakes of snow dropped on Falmouth this morning, Department of Public Works crews had already begun to treat and, in some cases, clear the streets to make them navigable.
But there are those in certain sections of town who feel that those crews have yet to adequately address their roads, which have been covered with ice, thanks to previous storms that have hit the region.
A case in point is Fairway Lane in West Falmouth, a steep public road, where at least one truck has gotten stuck going up it and some residents have reported skidding down it.
Making matters worse is a dip in the middle portion of the street that forces vehicles to slow down “to almost zero miles per hour to get through it without ruining your car,” according to Fairway Lane resident James R. Weinberg.
"You stop at that point and you lose all your speed, so it is hard to go uphill,” he added.
He said he was one of several to call the DPW to ask them to treat the road yesterday morning after he skidded down it on the way to work.
While the road has always been a problem, he said, “I think it is worse than I’ve ever seen it before.”
He was curious as to why the DPW treated adjoining Frazer Road, but appeared to have stopped once they got to Fairway Lane where there are about a dozen homes. He said the street is now one large sheet of ice.
It was so bad on Sunday that Peter Laue, a carpenter from Mashpee, got his truck stuck on the dip in the street on his way to a job.
“It is about three inches of rock-hard ice there,” he said. Eventually, he was able to free the truck from that spot, but “I didn’t dare go down it.”
Yesterday he was another to contact the DPW to ask them to treat the road. As one who does snow removal in parts of Woods Hole, he attributed the lack of attention paid to Fairway Lane as a way for the town to minimize costs.
Superintendent of Highways John T. Lyons explained the town’s policy for plowing and treating roads. The main and secondary roads are treated and cleared first, he said.
The final streets to be attacked are termed “priority three roads,” which are all local roads within residential areas. Those are done by private contractors although on occasion DPW trucks may tackle those streets if snow amounts are lower.
In terms of hills, such as Fairway Lane, he said, “we don’t normally use sand, but will sometimes use it as an abrasive. Normally Ice-ban will get through it.”
And with private roads, those are plowed but not treated with salt or sand on a regular basis, he said. The difficulty with these, he said, is that “a lot of private roads are dirt roads so when we are plowing we can’t get all the way down to the dirt. That is probably one issue in town.”
His crews begin treating roads with a road salt mixed with an Ice-ban material before a storm hits. Once there is roughly three inches of snow on the ground, he said, crews will begin clearing the streets, again starting with the main roads and tackling secondary and tertiary ones after that point.
“For the most part every route is covered and every road on it is cleared. If by chance something is missed, there may be a valid reason for it such as a car parked on the road or a tree down,” Mr. Lyons said.
Road salt rumors
While Falmouth has experienced a succession of storms, Mr. Lyons said the town has been lucky in the sense that “we haven’t had anything big and we hope that is the case for the rest of the winter.”
He said he has been aware of some complaints as well as calls for service, but they have not been unusually high this winter. To focus on those lingering trouble spots in town, Mr. Lyons said, he had two DPW trucks on the streets yesterday, a little less than a week after the last storm had hit Falmouth.
He also said DPW staff has had to address unfounded rumors that his department has run out of its supply of road salt.
“I’m not sure where that started, but we’ve got plenty of material on hand. We just put four more loads away today,” he said yesterday morning.
While there are those who wished the DPW better treated their roads, they are also realistic that this is a symptom of the area they live in.
“It is winter here in New England,” Mr. Weinberg said,. “You have to take what it gives us.”
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