Snow & Ice Maintenance
Snow & Ice Removal
Our Public Works crews are responsible for maintaining safe passage for approximately 600 lane miles of streets not including alleys. The objective of our Snow and Ice Policies and Procedures (PDF) is to remove snow and ice from the roadways as safely, quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively as possible to restore normal traffic conditions and services to residents, businesses and visitors.
Preparation of the snow removal equipment begins in late September and continues through October. This allows us to meet our goal of having all our trucks, related heavy equipment and brine facility, inspected, repaired, ready to respond to any winter event.
The only constant of winter storms is that they are never the same and are always subject to change. Each event must be treated individually taking all variables into consideration. The time of day, temperature, winds, amount of snow or ice are just a few that determine how we prepare and effectively plan to provide the safest travel during each event.
When winter storms are expected, City personnel carefully monitor the storm's movement on radar. With more detailed tracking of ground conditions, temperatures and storm history we are then able to quickly mobilize our crews and equipment reducing response time.
The City has the capability of producing salt brine, a tap water and sodium chloride solution (road salt) mixed in concentrations of 23-26% salt that has a freezing point of -6° Fahrenheit. If rain is not predicted prior to a winter event arriving, the City utilizes brine tanks with a spray bar deicing system on the trucks. Before the event, major and minor arterial streets are lined with salt brine. This practice is to keep the snow or ice from bonding to the street enabling more productive removal. Salt brine is also added to the road salt at the rear spinner to pre-wet the salt allowing it to more readily stay in place and quicken the melting process.
Liquid Calcium Chloride
When temperatures are consistently below 25° Fahrenheit, a liquid calcium chloride is mixed with the salt to increase the salt's melting effectiveness in lower temperatures.
The snow routes are broken down into five groups with four trucks assigned to each group. Priority is placed on the major arterial streets with two large trucks assigned to these streets in each group. A one-ton truck and pickup are assigned to the priority collector and residential streets. When there is an extended event, every effort is made to schedule available employees for 12 hour shifts.
When Following Snow Removal Trucks
When driving around snow removal trucks be careful and courteous and remember these tips:
- Don't pass a snow plow unless absolutely necessary
- Don't assume the snow plow operator can see you. Every truck has blind spots which reduce side and rear visibility
- Allow plenty of stopping distance; don't follow too closely. This also reduces the chance of material from the salt spinner hitting your vehicle.
- Keep your headlights on low beam.
- Slow Down.
To help minimize the amount of snow plowed back into a driveway, shovel the snow to the right-hand side of your driveway as you face the street. When contracting with someone to plow a driveway, parking lot or clear sidewalks, remind them to keep the snow on your property and not to place it back into the street.
Another area of concern is mailboxes. Most mailboxes are not damaged by the snow plow truck but from the weight of the snow thrown from the plow. At times with reduced visibility and snow banks, it is not always possible for our drivers to react in time to avoid the mailbox. In order to receive your mail, the U.S. Postal Service requires access to your mailbox. We make every effort to get as close as we can to the mailbox without doing any damage.
While the installation in the City right-of-way is permitted, the mailbox owner assumes all risk of damage except where a mailbox is damaged through direct contact by a snow removal vehicle. It is necessary for homeowners in this climate to use materials and construct mailboxes that will withstand the force of a snow windrow off the end of a snowplow.