Snow Removal Costly, Pothole Problems Few on Martha's Vineyard

A series of snowstorms beginning in November is taking a bite out of Island towns' snow-removal budgets, but so far we've been spared the car-eating potholes reported in some mainland communities.

Snow removal in Edgartown is handled by the highway department, except for private and state roads. (Louisa Hufstader photo)
Snow removal in Edgartown is handled by the highway department, except for private and state roads. (Louisa Hufstader photo)
This winter's snow season has kept the Island's highway superintendents and DPW chiefs busy, with the first flakes arriving in early November to usher in a series of snowstorms, each requiring snow removal and road sanding.

"We were out four times in one week" last month, said Stuart Fuller, Edgartown's highway superintendent, on the phone with Patch last week.

Whenever fresh snow falls, "whether it's an inch or a foot, there are 40 miles of roads that need sanding," Fuller added.

With all of these "snow events," as insiders call them, how is Edgartown's snow removal budget holding up?

"All my budget stuff is really good," Fuller said. "I've probably used a third of my budget for labor and contractors, and I've probably used up more than half my sand and salt allowance."

By comparison, West Tisbury town administrator Jen Rand said in an email that while the bills haven't come in yet, the town "will likely overspend our budgeted amount."

Potholes, a hot topic of conversation off-Island, haven't been a problem for the Vineyard officials Patch contacted.

"We see 'em, we fill 'em," Fuller said, estimating he'd heard of fewer than half a dozen potholes in Edgartown. However, he said the "freeze-thaw cycle," in which melted snow and ice seeps into roadways and then expands when it freezes again, is a "killer for the roads."

Rand said she wasn't aware of any pothole problems in West Tisbury but that people could contact her office about any that appear on town roads.

Private roads and state roads are not maintained by Island municipalities.

How are the town-maintained roads in your neighborhood? Tell us in the comments.


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