Let’s talk snow and side streets.
As a general rule, side streets are not plowed in response to a snow event unless total accumulations are, or are anticipated to exceed 4” – at which time a snow emergency may be declared by the director of public services or the city manager.
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, and DPS always considers other factors such as the forecasted conditions in the days after a snow event when determining its response. As such, it’s sometimes more art than science.
So why not plow and salt every side street whenever it snows?
Road maintenance, for one. Plowing equipment can be pretty rough on concrete surfaces. Frequent plowing can accelerate concrete deterioration, increasing future maintenance costs and reducing the pavement’s service life.
The environment is another. In addition to being corrosive to pavement, salt is carried away with snow melt into storm drains, eventually discharging into natural watersheds, altering water chemistry and damaging fragile ecosystems.
So what does the city do in neighborhoods when snowfall accumulations are less than 4 inches?
After addressing conditions on primary roads and other priority areas, crews will salt hills, curves and intersections on side streets.
It’s important to recognize that even with all ‘hands on deck’, clearing primary roads is a significant, time consuming task. Depending on the circumstances it may be a day or two before crews are able to attend to neighborhood streets, so patience is appreciated.
But what about safety?
In all seasons we have an obligation as licensed drivers to operate our vehicles in a manner consistent with road surface conditions – and this is particularly important in winter weather. The speed limit on most residential streets is 25 mph, but as in any situation on the road, conditions may require slower speeds, increased distance between other vehicles, and other safety considerations. This is true even where salt has been applied and is always the responsibility of the driver.
To report specific hazards that pose an immediate danger to motorists or pedestrians, contact the police department, otherwise, report to the department of public services at 248-246-3300.