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Public Works Snow Center for Cambridge Ma

Cambridge Ma Winter FAQs

How can I find out if the City of Cambridge has declared an emergency parking ban?

When a snow emergency is declared information is available as soon as possible at 617-349-4700, posted on City's homepage, Snow Center, social media accounts, and on 22 CityView.

You can also sign up for CodeRed to receive snow emergency alerts via voice, text or email message.

View a list and map of streets where parking is prohibited during a snow emergency and locations where free parking is available during a declared snow emergency.

Snow Emergency Off-Street Parking for Residents in Cambridge Ma

During a declared snow emergency, Cambridge residents are responsible for moving their cars off of streets signed "No Parking during Snow Emergency." To assist residents in parking their vehicles, free parking is provided in the following facilities as indicated below. If an announced snow emergency will be in effect overnight and begins after 6PM and before 7AM, the designated parking facilities will be free starting at 6PM rather than at the start of the snow emergency. This free parking program is available only to Cambridge residents with Resident Parking Permits issued by the Department of Traffic, Parking and Transportation.

Snow Emergency Off-Street Parking Locations

  • Galleria Mall - Enter on Cambridgeside Place, Between P.F Chang’s and The Cheesecake Factory Entrance. Residents of Cambridge can park for free in the Cambridgeside Galleria Garage from the time the declared snow emergency is in effect until 2 hours after it is lifted.

  • First Street Garage - Enter on Spring Street. Parking is free if you have a Cambridge resident parking permit from the time the declared snow emergency is in effect until 2 hours after it is lifted.

  • Green Street Garage, Central Square - Parking is free if you have a Cambridge resident parking permit from the time the declared snow emergency is in effect until 2 hours after it is lifted.

  • 52 Oxford Garage - This is a Harvard owned and operated garage. When a Snow Emergency is declared it is open to City residents with a resident parking permit on a space available basis for no fee from the time the declared snow emergency is in effect until two hours after the snow emergency is lifted. Important -- vehicles parked in this garage must exit no later than two hours after the ban is lifted. Space is limited, and availability is on a first-come, first-served basis. The University reserves the right to cease admittance due to capacity limitations and operation issues.

  • 65 Waverly Street - This is an MIT owned surface lot at the corner of Sidney, Waverly and Erie adjacent to Fort Washington Park. Parking is free with a resident permit from the start of the snow emergency until 2 hours after it has been lifted.

  • One Kendall Square Garage - This is a privately owned garage next to the Kendall Square Cinema. Parking is free during snow emergencies for Cambridge residents with a resident parking permit on their vehicle from the time the City’s declared snow emergency is in effect until two hours after it is lifted. The garage entrance is at 389 Binney Street.

How soon do residents/businesses need to remove ice and snow from sidewalks in Cambridge Ma?

Ice needs to be removed within 6 hours from the time it forms, per City Ordinance. Snow needs to be removed within 12 hours after snow stops falling during the day and before 1pm if it snowed during the night, per City Ordinance.

Public Works and the Traffic Department work together to enforce this Ordinance. Parking Control Officers in the Traffic Department conduct enforcement on priority pedestrian routes throughout the winter, and Public Works Compliance Officers investigate all complaints received of uncleared sidewalk.

The fine for failing to comply with the City’s sidewalk clearance ordinances is $50/day for each day of non-compliance. Even if you aren’t around, it is your responsibility to ensure someone clears sidewalks and ramps next to your property.

We all have a shared responsibility for keeping our community safe and accessible during winter weather. For you, your neighbors, people with strollers or using wheelchairs, and the many people in Cambridge who walk, please do your part.

What does a "cleared" sidewalk look like?

We all have a shared responsibility for keeping our community safe and accessible during winter weather. How to be sure you are in compliance with the City's Snow and Ice Removal Ordinance:

  • Shovel your sidewalk on all sides of your property, down to bare pavement

  • Make the path wide enough for someone using wheelchair, walker or stroller (at least 3 feet, preferably 4 feet). Clear snow to curb to avoid placing trash and recycling containers behind snow banks.

  • Clear snow to curb so that collection crews can access your trash barrels and recycling toters and they are not behind snow banks.

  • Clear ramps at corners and crosswalks.

  • Stock up on ice melter before a storm. Use ice melter with calcium chloride (CaCl2), which is the best choice for the environment and only a small amount is required to melt ice. Potassium chloride (KCl) is okay, too. Avoid rock salt (NaCl or sodium chloride), which kills plants and trees.

  • Do not use sand. It doesn’t help pedestrians; but it makes hard ice more slippery. It gets into street drains and is expensive to clean up in the spring.

  • Remember that, for people on foot, ice can be worse then snow. It can cause dangerous falls. You are as responsible for ice as you are for snow.

  • Keep street drains clear of snow (to avoid ponding/ icing at the bottom of ramps)

  • Consider helping neighbors who may have difficulty clearing their walk. Remember: pedestrians need safe, clear sidewalks all year long, so be mindful of anything—hedges, trees, parked cars— that obstructs their path of travel. Keeping sidewalks passable is the neighborly thing to do, and it’s the law.

The fine for failing to comply with the City’s sidewalk clearance ordinances is $50/day for each day of non-compliance. Even if you aren’t around, it is your responsibility to ensure someone clears sidewalks and ramps next to your property.

Am I required to clear my sidewalk if I am elderly and/or have a disability?

If you are a homeowner on a low income and/or you are elderly or have a disability, you may qualify for the City’s Snow Exemption Program, in which case the City will shovel your sidewalk. To find out whether you are eligible, please call the Cambridge Council on Aging, 617-349-6220 (voice) or 617-349-6050 (TTY).

If you do not qualify for an exemption, the Council on Aging can provide you with a limited list of professional snow removal companies and a list of students who want to earn money by shoveling – you contact the student yourself and negotiate a price.

Does the City provide salt for residents to use for melting ice?

The City provides salt for use by residents in several locations throughout the city. Please be considerate: take only what you need to get through the current snow or ice event.

Locations of Salt Barrels:

Fire Departments

  • Engine 1, Headquarters on Broadway

  • Engine 4, Mass Avenue @ Blake Street

  • Engine 9, Lexington Avenue


  • Concord Avenue, at 245 Concord Avenue

  • Heritage Branch, at 48 Sixth Street

  • North Cambridge, at 70 Rindge Avenue

  • Central Square, at 45 Pearl Street

Other Locations

  • Area IV Youth Center, at 243 Harvard Street

  • Sleeper Park, at Cedar & Norris Streets

  • Cambridge Cemetery, at 76 Coolidge Avenue

  • Danehy Park Parking Lot, on Sherman Street

  • Lenny Russell Bridge, at Huron Avenue and Aberdeen Avenue

  • East End House, at 105 Spring Street

  • Sacred Heart Church, Otis & 6th Streets

  • All municipal parking lots

How can I report an icy/unshoveled sidewalk in Cambridge Ma?

You can report the address of unshoveled or icy sidewalks using our online reporting form or by calling the snow hotline at 617-349-4800.

All reports will be inspected by Traffic or Public Works' staff, and a ticket will be issued if the property is found to be in violation of the Snow Ordinance.

How can I find out if school is closed due to snow?

For information about school closings please call the 24-hr recorded school link line at 617-349-6513, check the Cambridge Public School's homepage, or watch 22-CityView.

Street and Sidewalk Safety in Cambridge Ma

The City's Public Works Department will clear City streets and sidewalks as soon as possible. Our goals are to chemically treat all major arteries within three hours of when snow begins, to keep main arteries plowed during all stages of a storm, and to clear all streets and the sidewalks bordering City property once a storm has stopped.

Salting and Plowing Cambridge Ma

During a storm Public Works will deploy as many as 100 pieces of snow plowing equipment to begin clearing snow. Initially these plows are simply clearing a section of each roadway to allow for safe passage. As the storm begins to wind down, these same vehicles will continue in their assigned routes, pushing snow as far back to the curb line or line of parked cars on all of the City streets. From the start of the storm and usually well into the next day, we will push back snow many times on the same streets to clear snow to the maximum extent possible.

To make a street plowing/salting request, please call the Operations Center at 617-349-4800 to report the location.

Cambridge Ma Pedestrian Operations


Public Works clears over 23 miles of sidewalk areas including those around schools, public buildings, parks and high volume bus stops. The City shares responsibility with the MBTA in clearing bus stops. If you have questions or concerns about specific stops, please contact us.

Pedestrian areas to be cleared are those areas surrounding City buildings, major squares throughout the City including Harvard, Central and Porter, and sidewalks and pathways surrounding City parks.

What Can You Do?

During winter, please clear snow to curb so that collection crews can access your trash barrels and recycling toters and they are not behind snow banks. Please also help make streets and sidewalks accessible for all pedestrians during winter by removing snow and ice and reporting unshovelled or icy sidewalks. Together, we can keep Cambridge a walking city all year long.

Storm Preparation and Snow Removal Safety in Cambridge Ma

Storm Preparation Tips for Cambridge Ma

  • You don't know when the next emergency or disaster will occur or what it will be, so take some time to make a plan of what you and your family will do during emergencies. Your family may not all be together when an emergency occurs, so you should Create a Family Communications Plan. In addition, Create a Plan to Shelter in Place, and Create a Plan to Evacuate to keep you and your family safe whether you "stay" or "go". The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security has many useful resources for you to create your plan.

  • If you heat your dwelling with oil, check to make sure that you have enough home heating fuel to get through the storm.

  • Make sure your heating equipment and/or fireplaces have been serviced by a professional.

  • Install and maintain smoke alarms on every level of your home.Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Remember, if the smoke detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911. More Information on residential smoke detectors is available from the Cambridge Fire Department.

  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are current and operating properly.

  • If you have medical conditions, make sure you have a supply of necessary medications.

  • To be prepared for a possible power outage, stock up on batteries, flashlights, and canned goods and bottled water.

Essential "Building" Items to Keep Clear of Snow

Business, apartment building, and home owners should make certain to check essential building items, in addition to sidewalks, have properly cleared of snow and ice. The following items are essential to the overall safety of buildings and their occupants and should be cleared as soon as possible:

  • Pedestrian accesses

  • Emergency exits

  • Fire department sprinkler connections

  • Master Boxes

  • Gas and electric meters

  • Heating ventilation systems

  • Overburdened roofs.

Roof Collapse Safety Tips in Cambridge Ma

Homeowners, tenants, and businesses should be cognizant of the danger posed by heavy snow loads on roofs, and the importance of recognizing the warning signs of potential structural weaknesses. In many instances, the risks posed by accumulated snow can be mitigated by safely removing snow from roofs. Flat and low pitched roofs, most often found on industrial buildings, but also used in certain home designs, are at the greatest risk of buckling under heavy snow and ice accumulations.

To safely remove snow from roofs, the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety (DPS), DFS and MEMA recommend the following tips:


  • Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your roof.

  • Start from the edge and work your way into the roof.

  • Try to shave the snow down to 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to your shingles or other roof covering.

  • Keep all ladders, shovels and roof rakes away from utility wires

  • Plastic shovels are usually best. Metal tools may cause damage to your roof.

  • Shovel snow from flat roofs throwing the snow over the side, away from the building.

  • Remove large icicles carefully if they're hanging over doorways and walkways. Consider knocking down icicles through windows using a broom stick.

  • Protect utilities meters and piping from falling snow, icicles, and melting water.

  • Wear protective headgear and goggles when performing any of these tasks.

  • Consider hiring professionals to do the job. The combination of heights plus ice makes this one of the more dangerous house chores. If you choose to do the task yourself, have someone outside with you to assist.

  • Keep gutters and drains clean, free of ice and snow and keep downspouts clean at ground level.


  • Unless approved by a registered professional engineer, don’t add your weight or the weight of equipment to the roof.

  • Don’t use a ladder since ice tends to build up on both the rungs of the ladder and the soles of your boots.

  • Don’t use blow torches, open-flame, or electric heating devices like hair dryers or heat guns to remove snow and ice.

  • Don’t try to remove ice or icicles from utility wires or meters. Call your utility company for assistance.

Common signs of roofs experiencing problems:

  • Sagging roofs

  • Severe roof leaks

  • Cracked or split wood members

  • Bends or ripples in supports

  • Cracks in walls or masonry

  • Sheared off screws from steel frames

  • Sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles

  • Doors that pop open

  • Doors or windows that are difficult to open

  • Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling

  • Creaking, cracking or popping sounds

What to Do if You Have Problems:

  • If you notice any signs that you have a problem with your roof, or suspect a gas leak, leave the building immediately without touching light switches and call 9-1-1 from safely outside the building.

  • For general questions, call the Inspectional Services Department or the Cambridge Fire Department business line. It is recommended that you hire a licensed contractor to remove snow from your roof.

Cambridge Ma - Shoveling Snow Health Hazards

  • The American Heart Association says that for most people, shoveling snow may not lead to any health problems. However, the association warns that the risk of a heart attack during snow shoveling may increase for some, stating that the combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart. People who are outdoors in cold weather should avoid sudden exertion, like lifting a heavy shovel full of snow. Even walking through heavy, wet snow or snow drifts can strain a person’s heart.

  • To help make snow removal safer, the American Heart Association has compiled a list of practical tips.

Cambridge Ma - Snow Blowers Safety Tips

  • Always start your snow blower in a well-ventilated area to avoid possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • If you haven’t used your snow blower in a while, remember that gasoline may still be inside from the last time you used it. Gasoline is only good for about 30 days, unless you’ve added a fuel stabilizer.

  • Always make sure that the snow blower is completely turned off before replacing any parts.

  • Fix clogs carefully. If your snow blower becomes clogged, turn it off, and remove the key before trying to clear it. Use a stick and NOT your hands to clear debris.

  • If your snow blower hasn’t been checked up by a professional in a while, have it serviced before you use it.

Home Winter Safety in Cambridge Ma

Heating System Safety Tips

  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

  • NEVER use your oven for heat.

  • NEVER bring charcoal or gas grills indoors (they are a carbon monoxide hazard).

  • Liquid or gas-fired portable space heaters are illegal in Massachusetts.

  • Use electric space heaters with extreme care; avoid placing them near curtains or other flammable materials and turn them off before going to bed.

  • Make sure all portable heat-producing appliances are unplugged when not in use (irons, hair devices, etc.).

  • NEVER leave candles unattended.

  • Keep dryer vents clear of snow and ice.

  • If gas and oil appliances and heating systems are not installed correctly, working well, or cleaned and serviced regularly, they can be sources of Carbon Monoxide exposure. Winter is a particularly dangerous time for CO poisoning. Common CO sources include:

    • Space heaters

    • Blocked flue pipes

    • Fireplaces

    • Cars and trucks

    • Gas ranges and ovens

    • Clothing dryers

    • Gas and oil heating systems

    • BBQ grills

Power Outages Tips

  • In case of a power outage, stock up on batteries, flashlights, and canned goods.

  • Avoid using candles during any power outage

  • If power is lost, unplug all appliances except one lamp to prevent power surge damage.

  • Keep refrigerators closed as much as possible and keep temperature at 45° or below. Food will stay fresh for between 36-48 hours in a full fridge; 24 hours in a half-filled one.

  • Keep a battery-operated radio, extra medicine, blankets, and bottled water on hand.

  • Report power outages to Eversource

Preventing Frozen Pipes Tips

  • Keep heat at adequate levels or leave faucets open with a slight drip to prevent pipes from freezing.

  • Check for open windows, air vents, and wind drafts near water pipes.

  • Seal leaks in the basement foundation where cold air may enter. Stuff holes with insulation. A tiny opening may cause an exposed pipe to freeze.

  • Locate the main water shut off valve in your home and mark it for quick identification. Learn how to turn it off, and educate others in your household. If a water pipe bursts, shutting your home’s main valve quickly will minimize flooding and property damage.

  • Leave kitchen/sink cabinet doors open if pipes are subject to freezing. This will allow heat to reach the pipes.

  • Don’t use an open flame to thaw pipes. If your pipes do freeze, use a hair dryer or rags soaked in hot water to thaw lines.

  • Insulate pipes in unheated spaces like garages, basements, and crawl spaces. This will help prevent frozen pipes, avoiding property damage and the costs of repairs. Additionally, insulating hot water pipes will decrease your wait time for warm water.

  • Protect your water meter from icy drafts and freezing temperatures. Most frozen meters are caused by drafts from an open basement door or window. Double check your property for drafts as the cold weather sets in.

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