The city's streets don't have two feet of snow on them any more, but many aren't down to pavement yet and some are still tough to travel on.
Residents aren't happy with the roads' condition. "Terrible," said Dave Richards on the aptly named Winter Street Monday morning, as traffic passed on a road still covered with a few inches of snow, which had hardened into a series of seasonal potholes across the area's streets.
Richards said the roads are down to the tar at the Bellingham town line.
"Terrible," offered another Winter Street resident shoveling his driveway, who declined to give his name.
"Woonsocket roads are unsafe due to bad plowing. This city should hire another company. These roads are putting people’s lives at risk. Bordering towns are down to the tar and we are still full of snow. What are we paying taxes for?," asked Woonsocket Patch commenter Normand Brissette.
"Plows left driveways a mess too on Aylsworth Ave., and practically all of Woonsocket is on a hill, so either way you going up a hill or down a hill, and it makes it quite dangerous driving when the roads are still covered with snow or ice," said commenter Carol Ann Ketchum.
The DPW lost half of its plow fleet on Saturday due to mechanical failure, and has been aided by a number of private plow contractors who responded to the city's call for help.
Lataille said they're still looking for contractors with dump trucks and bobcats. Any interested contractor should call Woonsocket DPW at 401-767-8883.
Schools have been canceled for today and Tuesday, trash pickup has been delayed and this afternoon's Woonsocket Budget Commission meeting has been canceled as well in the wake of the blizzard.
Woonsocket Fire Chief Gary Lataille, the city's Emergency Management Agency Director, said the city has 520 streets, and they've plowed all of them at least once. Lataille said anyone whose road has not been plowed should call the DPW at 401-767-8883 or 1-401-767-9286 immediately.
Lataille said the city's alert system through the Woonsocket Police Department on Nixle, which sends word of parking bans and traffic advisories straight to smart phones and computers, has been a big success, and he's recieved a lot of compliments on how quickly people got information using it during the blizzard. He encouraged anyone who hasn't signed up for the service to do so to get the latest alerts from the city.
The Nixle Community Information Service allows the WPD to send messages to subscribed residents instantly via cell phone text message and/or email. Notifications can also be accessed online at Nixle’s web site at www.nixle.com,
Lataille said the DPW is still working to widen the roads and clear storm drains as rain begins to fall today. He said that most of that activity will be done overnight to avoid having plows in the roads at the same time as drivers.
The city has also hired private contractors with bobcats and backhoes to clear sidewalks, he said. He also took the opportunity to remind residents that they're responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of their homes, according city ordinance. He said it's the responsible, safe thing to do, as well. Also, he asked that if possible, residents clear nearby fire hydrants, or at least mark them so the fire department can clear them later. Lataille said there are crews out clearing them now, but they'd appreciate any help they can get.
The snowy conditions haven't caused major problems for emergency responders, Lataille said. All of the fire department's engines have snow chains on them, and were able to get to all areas of the city during the height of the storm. Only in one case, Lataille said, were they called to a secondary road that an ambulance couldn't reach. In that case, he said, an engine transported the person to the ambulance on the main road without incident.
Lataille advised caution on the roads, which are still hazardous. He said snow piled at the intersections and hard-packed snow left on the roads will compromise stopping time and reaction time, and drivers should compensate by driving slower, more carefully and smarter. "Please drive cautiously," Lataille said.
Finally, Lataille said he was sorry so many people's driveways are being plowed in as the roads are cleared. He and Mayor Leo Fontaine have spoken about the large number of complaints the city has received from people who were plowed in, but there is no way around it as the streets are plowed. "We regret that but it's a necessary evil," Lataille said.