With about 6,400 lane miles of roadway spread across a large area where snow and ice depth often varies considerably, managing and prioritizing cleanup efforts is a challenge. The City’s current policy establishes different levels of operation in the event of snow and ice:
Level 1: In the event of a minor snow event, and at the first sign of potentially significant snowfall, Public Works crews pre-treat arterial roads with anti-icing solution and perform minor plowing in key arterial and residential areas.
Level 2: A coordinated effort involving Public Works, Water Services and Parks and Recreation crews plow the City’s 2,400 lane miles of arterial streets. Snow routes are put in effect, and residents are urged to remove cars from residential streets to maintain access for motorists and Public Works snowplows.
Level 3: In the event of a blizzard, a snow emergency is declared. Personnel from all City departments are mobilized to plow snow. Some City services may be suspended during this time. Emergency routes are in effect, and residents are urged to remove their cars from residential streets.
The removal of snow and ice accumulation on streets is prioritized by average vehicle usage. Trucks are dispatched to routinely plow arterial streets 24 hours a day. On the other hand, plowing on residential and low volume streets begins with a single pass to provide basic access for motorists. As appropriate, this pathway is widened by subsequent snowplow passes. Work on these streets is only performed during daytime hours.
Throughout the winter, resource management requires not only providing a sufficient response, but making certain resources such as salt and chemicals are not over expended on early storms without concern for later storms when colder temperatures impede snow and ice removal and increase equipment breakdowns. The goal isn’t to provide clean pavement everywhere, but rather to facilitate motorists making it to where they need to go safely.
City crews use several technological innovations to improve efficiency and safety during winter weather events. All snowplows have been fitted with GPS devices, which will allow the City’s Traffic Operations Center to track plowing progress and redirect snowplows to key areas as needed.