Road and sidewalk conditions throughout West Hartford are continuing to improve four days after the blizzard that dumped more than two feet of snow on the area, but conditions in some areas remain dangerous and motorists and pedestrians are advised to continue to use extreme caution.
A ride-along with West Hartford Police Sgt. Kim Sullivan Wednesday morning revealed school properties in great shape, with drop-off areas cleared to the curb and administrators ensuring safety as they greeted students on the sidewalk.
Sidewalks in many areas of town were another story.
Two of the corners at the intersection of Whiting Lane and Boulevard, where students walk to Whiting Lane Elementary School, remained unshoveled Wednesday morning. On the southwest corner, a man waiting for a CT Transit bus had to stand in the road as traffic whizzed by at full speed.
A short while later, a fender bender was reported at that same intersection.
A crossing guard near Charter Oak International Academy relayed an incident earlier that morning when he tried to stop a car to let children cross. The driver, he said, exclaimed, "You're no cop," and initially made no attempt to stop. "He had to stop because I got in his way," said the crossing guard.
All four corners of New Britain Ave. and South Main St. are commercial properties, but sidewalks were hard to find on Wednesday. "It looks like a lot of the offenders are businesses," Sullivan said.
Sidewalks disappear in the north end of West Hartford, too. At the intersection of King Philip Dr. and Albany Ave., where students walk to King Philip Middle School, pedestrians were forced out into the road.
The town continues to ask residents to do their part in clearing sidewalks, handicapped ramps and bus stop pads to make them passable. Clear sidewalks are critical to the safety of children who are walking to school or are waiting at bus stops.
Town Ordinance 115-24 states, "Removal of snow and ice from premises where there is an established sidewalk is required by owners or occupants within 12 hours after a storm ends or within 12 hours after sunrise, whichever is later. The whole walk must be cleared, including curb cuts, handicapped ramps, and bus stop pads, etc. It is illegal to dump snow from sidewalks and driveways into the streets."
The West Hartford Police began issuing $79 tickets on Wednesday to property owners who are in violation. To file a complaint regarding an impassable sidewalk, residents can call police at (860) 523-5203.
Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor said Wednesday that she is trying to organize a list of Boy Scouts and others resources to assist residents who are unable to take care of their own sidewalks. She urged individuals who need help to contact Human Services Manager Susan Huleatt at 860-561-7578.
Director of Public Works John Phillips said crews are continuing to improve the width of roads, although some travel lanes are stil restricted.
Daytime traffic, which has jammed roads since schools and businesses reopened, also impacts productivity as well as safety. Phillips' own vehicle was rear-ended on Tuesday, he said.
West Hartford's contracted resources have been assigned to other towns which are still in the earlier stages of storm recovery.
"Yes, we still have a long list of narrow roads and a heavy snow build-up in major intersections," Phillips said, but they are working on them and the warmer temperatures are also helping reduce the snow pack. "All in all we are in very good shape," he said.
However, Phillips said that any additional snowfall in the next few days will require operators to treat the roads rather than continue snow removal.
"We are also challenged with equipment breakdowns. Our shop looks like a MASH Unit for vehicles. All of rolling stock have been working hard since Friday afternoon," he said.