Maplewood Mayor: Storm Cleanup ‘Not Acceptable’

Travelers to, from and through Maplewood have been united in at least one thing over the past two days: complaints about the less-than-navigable state of Maplewood’s roads in the aftermath of the winter storm that struck on Tuesday.

The situation has prompted an apology by Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca and a promise to evaluate the town’s snow removal operations.

While many locals applauded the work of the Department of Public Works throughout the storm on Tuesday, the quality of the roads deteriorated overnight into Wednesday as the icy snowfall froze and salting, sanding and plowing seemed to diminish.

By Wednesday morning, locals were complaining to Village Green via messages, emails and Facebook posts. A lively and highly critical thread on SOMA Lounge detailed the problems.

“Epic fail,” wrote one resident in a text to Village Green. He described Springfield Avenue on Tuesday morning as a “moonscape.” Another resident on the South Orange border said it took him 20 minutes to get through Maplewood and onto route 78.

Strangely, many side streets appeared to be in better shape than the main roads. Locals complained about Springfield Avenue, Prospect Street (completely covered in snow and ice Wednesday morning), Parker and Ridgewood. (Valley Street is plowed by the County as is Irvington Avenue.)

Even on Thursday morning, some intersections — such as Oakland Road and Prospect Street — featured difficult to navigate corners. Cars traveling up and down Oakview took turns passing on stretches where the street was half filled with slush and ice.

Mayor DeLuca signaled on Facebook on Wednesday that he was not happy with the cleanup. On Thursday afternoon, the mayor provided the following update from DPW Director Calvin Bell: “Snow and ice removal operations are continuing all day, and the crosswalks along Springfield Ave. will be opened for pedestrian traffic. Employees have already been scheduled to come in overnight so that operations can continue in areas currently affected by parked vehicles. Approximately 700 tons of salt has already been used.”

The mayor lauded the DPW staff for working “very hard” on the cleanup, noting that “many of them worked for 20 hours” through the storm.

However, DeLuca called the results unacceptable.

“Unfortunately, the results were not acceptable,” wrote DeLuca in an email.”We are continuing to clear areas that need more work. I apologize for the condition of our roads. We will the evaluate snow removal operation and make changes for next season.”

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