When I was a kid in the 1960s, a post-snowstorm highlight was the appearance of the city of Lowell’s giant truck-mounted snow blower on our street. The above photo closely resembles the vehicle I remember: it was orange with a big box for its mechanics on the rear bed and this giant snow blower contraption attached to its front. A squad of orange-colored DPW dump trucks would accompany this vehicle, each in turn pulling alongside as together they inched down the street, swallowing up the street-edge snow banks and regurgitating the remains into the back of the dump truck. It was quite effective but I haven’t seen a comparable vehicle in the city or elsewhere since Richard Nixon became president.
Yesterday afternoon while driving down Westford Street, traffic stopped for a while as a mammoth bucket loader scooped up frozen mounds of snow from intersectional corners. With a bucket big enough to hold my entire car, this thing moved a lot of snow, depositing it in a series of dump trucks that were clearly owned by private contractors (as was the bucket loader, I assume).
A few weeks ago, there was a report that the city was to spend $120,000 on a smaller vehicle-mounted snow blower that would be used primarily to clean up sidewalks. I don’t doubt the machine is needed, but I also can’t believe the price tag. Perhaps that, plus the single-use nature of this type of equipment, explains why the truck-mounted snow blower is just a faded memory of my youth. Still, that bucket loader and those dump trucks that were on Westford Street yesterday can’t come cheap, so maybe the city should investigate obtaining more of this specialized snow removal equipment.