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Springfield’s DPW Chief Responds to Complaints over Roads

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Residents say they tried reaching out to the city for answers. Today, ABC40 dug for answers with the head of Springfield’s DPW.

DPW Director Al Chwalak continues to monitor the storm response from this command center.

“We’ve been saying it four four days. We cannot handle a storm this size with the majority of equipment that we ahve,” says Chwalek.

Inspectors drove down all 2,000 city streets Monday.

By mid afternoon, eight streets were still unplowed. Many others weren’t perfect, but they were passable.

“After years and years of continual budget cuts, this is what’s going to happen. I warned everybody, and unfortunately this is a freak storm,” Chwalek adds.

Chwalak says DPW did the best they could over the weekend. The city was forced to stop plowing from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday because drivers needed rest after working 24 hours straight.

[Is there any question if they could have been staggered differently...Different shifts?]

“If you have back up drivers, you can stagger. I have no back up drivers. I have 20 trucks, I have 20 drivers. That is it,” Chwalek says.

Overall, 128 people work for the Springfield DPW. Cwhalek says there were 300 in 2003 and twice as much equipment.

So the city has to hire about 200 subcontractors to plow, but 80% of them are pickup trucks and couldn’t handle two feet of snow

“Some of them actually refused residential streets because they will get stuck. If you are towing plows, you know you are in trouble.”

Chwalak pledges the city will continue to make slow, steady progress

“This is a real challenge. Two feet of snow is not something to take lightly, and we haven’t.”

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WGGB encourages readers to share their thoughts and engage in healthy dialogue about the issues. Comments containing personal attacks, profanity, offensive language or advertising will be removed. Please use the report comment function for any posts you feel should be reviewed. Thank you.
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