Snow & Ice Policy
The Pepperell Department of Public Works (DPW) is responsible for a complete snow removal and ice control program on public streets within the Town of Pepperell – with the exception of Route 119, which is maintained by Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Because winter travel can be challenging for motorists, it is important for residents to understand how the snow removal and ice control program will be carried out.
Many times this winter, your DPW will be called upon to clear the roads of snow and ice. One complete pass of the roads and facilities in town is more than 170 lane miles – equivalent to a round trip from Pepperell to Springfield, MA. A typical storm requires several passes, which results in more than 1,000 total miles driven by DPW staff for a single storm. Before, during, and after each storm, we endeavor to keep our equipment in a state of readiness for continuous operation. We strive to deliver both cost- effective and efficient service to the residents of Pepperell.
When the Snowfall Starts:
A typical event starts with anti-icing operations, or pre-treatment. This starts as soon as the snowfall begins, or sometime in advance of a snowstorm. This process prevents the snow from becoming compacted and frozen to the road surface. Top priority is given to the Town’s main arterial and collector roads. These are the heaviest traveled roads that are the key to maintaining a steady flow of traffic, within and through the Town.
As the Snowfall Continues:
When two to three inches of snow have accumulated, the snowplowing on the roadways commences. Our first responsibility is to keep the major roads, schools, and Town facilities open. The plows then continue to clear roads on the routes to “open up” each one in sequence. If the storm continues in intensity, the plowing equipment remains in that same pattern until the storm ends. High accumulations of snowbanks along the roadways require the plowing equipment to “widen out” roads by pushing the accumulated snow back to the curb line or gutter line and clearing intersections to make room for the next storm.
If possible, wait until the roadway has been plowed and ‘widened out’ before clearing the end of your driveway.
After the Storm is Over:
Crews continue to monitor roads for icy spots and drifting snow. The roads are treated with an application of salt. In addition to the roads, the DPW is also responsible to clear the sidewalks. Sidewalk clearing occurs towards the end of the storm, or even after depending on the length of the event, with the priority being sidewalks around school zones. Front end loaders and dump trucks may be required to remove snow from downtown areas for traffic and pedestrian safety.
How You Can Help:
Do not drive during winter storms unless absolutely necessary.
Our DPW plow operators take every reasonable precaution to avoid damaging mailboxes located within the Town’s rights-of-way. However, experience has shown that with reduced visibility during a storm, and the heights of the snowbanks, it is not always possible for a driver to avoid mailbox damage, the vast majority of which is caused by the snow that comes off of the end of the plow. There is a tremendous amount of force contained in the discharge, and mailboxes and posts that are not securely constructed or sufficiently maintained can easily be damaged by this force. The following video illustrates just how easily a mailbox and / post can be damaged without being physically struck by the plow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFycE9Welqs
Any unauthorized installations within the Town’s rights-of-way, including walls, fences, mailboxes, irrigation systems, etc., are placed there at the owner’s risk. The town does not assume responsibility for replacing damaged private installations in the Town’s rights-of-way. The Town’s rights-of-way area typically extends approximately 10 feet to 15 feet from the edge of the road into your property. To help reduce the possibility of a broken mailbox, residents are encouraged to install mailboxes at the maximum distance from the paved road while still allowing for United States Postal Service access.
Most damage to mailboxes occurs as a result of them being set too close to the edge of the pavement. Another reason for damage is the deterioration of the post. Any other personal property, such as basketball hoops, located near the edge of pavement should be removed to avoid damage to snow equipment and the personal property.
If it snows on your trash collection day, place your recycling bins and trash bags away from the edge of the road. Our plow operators cannot plow around bins and bags, and cannot stop to pick up spilled bins or trash bags.
Do not allow your children to play in or on roadside snowbanks. Snowplows need to travel at constant speeds and cannot slow down quick enough to prevent injury to children playing in snowbanks.
Remember, the winter on-street parking ban is in effect on Town roads from November 15th until April 1st. All illegally parked vehicles impeding snow and ice operations will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.
State Law prohibits residents and private contractors from shoveling, blowing, plowing, or throwing snow onto public streets or sidewalks. Please remind your hired maintenance operators of this law. Most private snow removal operators use common sense and are aware of the proper procedures required to clear driveways. A few operators ignore the law, which poses a hazard to the public, and costs the taxpayers by requiring Town crews to return to these locations to clean up after the unlawful snow clearing activities. Anyone not complying with this practice is subject to fines.
A Winter Suggestion for Minimizing the Filling of Snow in Your Driveway:
Winter weather is an inconvenience and can be frustrating. The DPW’s primary responsibility is to keep the roads clear and our operations can take place for hours beyond the end of the snow fall. There will be occasions that our snowplowing activities will impact an already cleared driveway. Please understand that the Town plows cannot clear out the end of your driveway nor can the Town plow private property. The sketch below illustrates the best way you can clear your driveway to reduce the chances of being plowed in, during road-clearing operations.
We sincerely thank you for your cooperation. Any questions or concerns may be directed to the DPW Highway Office.