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Coronavirus pandemic may affect snow removal in the city of Syracuse

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Tom Magnarelli
/
WRVO News File Photo
The sidewalk plowing program the city of Syracuse started in recent years is falling victim to budget cuts forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Walsh administration has been building up capacity for snow removal in the city of Syracuse the last several years. The pandemic may upend some of those strides, in what is often the snowiest city in the country.

The good news, according to Mayor Ben Walsh, is the city of Syracuse Department of Public Works (DPW) has ten shiny new plows to clear the streets this year.

"We just recently received ten new plows we were able to purchase through our capital plan,” Walsh said. “And that is going to significantly strengthen our fleet.”

The bad news: the sidewalk plowing program the city started in recent years is falling victim to budget cuts forced by the pandemic. Walsh says aid from the federal government is the only way that program can move ahead.

The other thing that keeps Walsh up at night -- worries about the DPW staff that operate plows.

"The way in which our plows are operated, the large plows require two DPW workers in the cab,” Walsh said. “They can wear their masks, but they are still in a proximity. So if one has COVID the other is going to end up at least in quarantine.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.