hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

May 1, 2014

Editorial: Street sweeping is a routine, but needed, task

The Haverhill Gazette

---- — Clean, well maintained streets provide the first impression one gets of a city. So Haverhill’s investment in a new street sweeper is a reasonable use of public funds.

The new street sweeper adds a third machine to the city’s aging fleet. The $160,000 machine has improved 360-degree visibility for the driver, a more powerful broom system to pick up debris in the streets and a filtration system to collect airborne dust while in operation, officials said. The machine was paid for using water and wastewater funds.

The connection of a street sweeper to the water and wastewater department may not be apparent at first. But Mayor James Fiorentini explained that the federal government’s clean water mandates may soon cover road debris that makes its way into the sewers.

“Those storm water requirements, which have not taken place yet, will, or could, eventually require us to sweep every street in the city twice, and inspect and clean every storm drain every year, but right now there is no such mandate,” he said.

There’s no question that a lot of sand and debris accumulates on the roads over the winter. Last year, the city’s two sweepers picked up more than 600 yards of sand and other debris. The sweepers generally operate daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon, weather permitting.

“Maintaining our streets to keep them free of debris is important to maintain safe roadways,” Fiorentini said. “The Department of Public Works does a great job sweeping the streets and is committed to maintaining our roadways.”

Adding the third machine takes some of the burden off the older equipment and assures the city will always have functioning sweepers to deploy.

Haverhill is slowly expanding the area swept from the central city to more outlying areas, depending on budgeted funds.

“Over the past few years we’ve expanded the number of streets we sweep,” Fiorentini said.

Beginning in mid-May, a private company will begin sweeping streets in Bradford. The city does not have the manpower to do the work itself.

“If we have enough money left in the budget, after they do Bradford they’ll do parts of the Mount Washington area,” he said.

Street sweeping is one of those mundane tasks a municipal government performs. It isn’t glamorous, but it’s one of the first things members of the public notice if it is not done.

Street sweeping is a matter of basic maintenance of public roads. It keeps them safe for drivers and looking good for city residents and visitors. It is a worthwhile investment of taxpayer funds.