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Acton's Plowed Through Half Its Snow Budget

Which is not all that unusual for this time of year.

Plows awaiting a storm in Westford.
Plows awaiting a storm in Westford.
The assorted storms, flurries and freezes so far this winter have eaten away at Acton's snow removal budget, but spending on snow and ice isn't necessarily tracking to surpass seasonal norms. 

Even more than snow, black ice has been an issue so far this season, according to Kevin Farrell, the Highway Division's assistant superintendent. 

The black ice is dangerous, unpredictable and harder to protect against, Farrell said, noting that it's a byproduct of rain, snowmelt and other seasonal conditions, and can occur even without snow or an obvious cause. 

"That's tricky because it’s harder to tell when that is happening," said Farrell. "A lot of that is caused from the frost in the ground keeping the road temperatures cold. It can hit as rain and freeze once it hits the road because of the frost beneath." 

While black ice can be more difficult to guard against than a traditional snow fall, the weather we've had so far this season hasn't depleted the town's snow budget. 

Taking into consideration spending on overtime, chemical and salt purchasing and contractors to date, the town has depleted about half of its snow and ice budget. And it's far too early to tell whether that should be a cause for concern for the town.

“We really have about six more weeks we really have to worry about," Farrell said. 

Plus, under Massachusetts state law, snow and ice removal is the one area where municipalities can deficit spend -- so long as the requisite local approvals are in place. 

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