By Dave Rogers
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The city’s winter parking ban was extended indefinitely as officials continue to widen streets and remove as much snow as possible from clogged city avenues and municipal parking lots.
The parking ban, which was expected to end yesterday at 8 a.m., had been issued Friday at 2 p.m. to keep as many cars off the roads as possible as the region braced for what turned out to be massive storm, dumping nearly 2 feet of snow beginning Friday afternoon and well into Saturday.
Since the last snowflake fell, Department of Public Services crews have been working steadily to clear up the city’s roads and sidewalks. But efforts have been hampered by motorists who have disregarded the ban and those driving too fast to be safe, according to City Marshal Thomas Howard.
Howard said there were multiple incidents yesterday of traffic delays and even gridlock as motorists crashed into snowbanks or merely parked on both sides of streets. Hardest hit areas of the city included the South End and the neighborhood around Newburyport High School.
“We’re barely getting traffic through, let alone someone parking on those streets,” Howard said.
Howard said police aren’t looking to ticket every parked car, but he cautioned that anyone who causes a traffic jam or hinders their progress of city services would be cited. The key word, Howard said, is cooperation. Be mindful of where you are parking and whether you might be restricting traffic, hindering emergency workers or DPS crews, he said.
“We are being as understanding as we can be,” Howard said.
Mayor Donna Holaday said the city would relax some parking restrictions during the day so people can shop or take care of errands.
“But we really need people to pay attention to where they are parking at night,” Holaday said.
As of yesterday afternoon, there had been no instances of emergency vehicles being unable to answer a call due to parked cars or snowbanks.
How long the ban will remain in effect has yet to be determined, but Howard said people should expect it to be in place for several days at least.
“I don’t see any relief in the next week,” Howard said, adding the city would be issuing daily or every-other-day updates to the public.
DPS crews along with contractors were expected to be clearing snow from the Green Street and Kent Street parking lots starting at 6 p.m. yesterday. Cashman Park and the west side Newburyport Redevelopment Authority parking lots were designated as alternative parking locations. Parking is allowed on the even side only on Federal, Bromfield, Marlboro, Green, Market, Kent, Broad, Oakland and Woodland streets. Motorists can also park on Winter and Summer streets on the opposite side of the highway railing, according to the city.
Later yesterday evening, crews were scheduled to remove snow from several city streets including Middle Street, Liberty Street, Pond Street, Coffin Court, Washington Street and the Brown Elementary School area.
“We’re doing as well as can be expected, but something has to give and unfortunately the snow is winning,” Howard said.
Clean-up efforts were slightly hindered Sunday evening as two contractors had other obligations and were unable to help. But those contractors were expected to be back on the city’s roads and parking lots last night helping with snow removal, Holaday said, adding snow would be carted to Perry Way and Cashman Park.
As the city continues to remove snow, Holaday implored motorists to be especially aware of children walking to school in the morning and afternoon, as some sidewalks remain snow-clogged and streets are narrower than usual.
“Please, everyone, be careful,” Holaday said.