Questions continue to arise around Public Works' storm response. We put together some information to help share details about how the City responds to winter weather, like the significant winter storm that blanketed the area with more than a foot of snow.
When does storm response start?
Storm response starts before winter weather conditions ever arrive. We’re constantly monitoring weather.
We use our snow-fighting equipment for various purposes throughout the year. When freezing conditions and winter weather are forecasted, we convert those trucks to battle whatever conditions are expected.
We pre-treat roads with de-icer in advance of cold weather. Once the winter weather arrives, we will adjust our response. It could include everything from just sanding and de-icing, to moving to a complete 24-hour operation that will extend for weeks or months.
When do you start plowing?
We typically wait until there’s a few inches of snow on the ground before sending out our plows to clear roads. This helps to preserve pavement, manhole covers, curbs, and the plow.
Why do you prioritize streets?
We have a prioritized response to our snow routes, with a focus on getting the community as a whole moving. We worked with local community partners like LTD, school districts and hospitals to prioritize these routes.
We do not plow streets that are not on our priority list, unless there’s an emergency. We do work with police, fire, and EMS to help clear streets in the event of an emergency.
What are priority routes?
- Priority #1 routes consist mainly of arterial streets, bridges and major intersections.
- Priority #2 routes consist mainly of collector streets.
- Priority #3 routes consist of neighborhood collectors and will only be addressed during extended storms, providing the personnel and equipment are available and priorities #1 and #2 routes are adequately covered.
Will you plow my street?
Public Works only plows roads that are on the priority route list. If your road is not the priority list, it will not be plowed. Our goal is to get the most people safely moving through the city.
How much snow-fighting equipment does the City have?
We have 10 vehicles that are equipped with either a plow, sander, or de-icer. Some of those 10 vehicles have a combination of the equipment. Those vehicles are used to maintain the 600 lane miles of priority routes. There are more than 1,300 lane miles in the city. More than half of all city roads will not be plowed, in the event of a significant snow storm.
Why does it take so long to plow the city?
Plowing in an urban environment has many different elements – parked cars, manhole covers, speed humps, and other infrastructure in the road. Plow drivers have to be aware of these elements while clearing snow from the road.
Winter storms can also take down power lines and trees, which is typical for our winter storms. We often have to clear the road of these hazards before plowing the street.
Am I supposed to clear my sidewalk?
Property owners are responsible for maintaining their sidewalks and driveway aprons in good repair and safe condition, which includes clearing ice, snow, slippery leaves, and other debris, per City Code.
As soon as possible, clear your sidewalks and driveway apron (where sidewalk crosses driveway) of snow, ice, leaves and debris following a snow/weather event. Property owners should maintain a space so people who walk have a safe path, free of snow, ice and other debris.