City of

District 16

Alder Michael J. Tierney

Alder Michael J. Tierney

Alder Michael J. Tierney

Contact Information

Home Address:

4534 Secret Garden Dr
McFarland , WI 53558

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Tierney’s Updates

the process and policies of snow plowing by George Dreckmann

December 30, 2015 9:52 AM

Happy New Year All-

Below is a response from Mr. Dreckmann to a constituent who had email me with questions regarding snow plowing.  After responding to the constituent myself  I asked City staff for information on the process/policies of plowing.  I thought I would share it with all of you so answer some nagging questions and our frustration of waiting and then our frustration of being buried in snow once the plow goes by.

Happy New Year - any guess on how many more snowfalls we will receive this year?



I have been asked to respond to your message to Ald. Demarb about our snow plowing policies.


You are correct that plowing snow in a community as large as Madison is much different than in a community of 4,000.  Madison has almost 800 lane miles of streets to be cleared.  That is the equivalent of a road stretching to Las Vegas from Madison.  


We do no plow residential streets, like those in your subdivision, unless we get 3" of snow or more form a single storm.  Our policy is not to begin plowing of residential streets until the precipitation from the storm has ended.  We have adopted this policy in order to keep cost down by not having to replow streets.  (A general plowing of all residential streets costs an average of $300,000)  In the case of the most recent storm, we started plowing residential streets at 5 a.m. 


Madison sends out 32 trucks to plow and salt major streets, bus routes, and roads to schools and hospitals as soon as snow starts to fall.  We continue to work on these streets (called Salt Routes) throughout a storm regardless of the amount of snow.   Sand is applied on hills, curves, and intersections of residential streets as needed.  (We do not use salt on residential streets.  We also only apply 300 pounds of salt per lane mile.  These salt reduction policies are designed to protect our lakes and groundwater.  Most other communites in our area, including Dane County, do not follow these practices.)


Smaller communities, such as McFarland, are able to plow their streets using municipal equipment and City employees.  They do not have as many miles to plow and thus are able to keep plowing all of their streets throughout a snow event.  They also apply salt to all streets in their community which helps keep streets open.


Madison snow removal operations require over 160 pieces of equipment when we plow all of our streets.  We only have 85 pieces of equipment capable of snow plowing in our fleet so we have to hire contractors to assist us with our plowing operations.  These contractors and City crews are assigned to plow routes that cover all streets in Madison. 


Our plow routes are designed for maximum efficiency to control costs and get the job done as quickly as possible.  The reality of routing means that some areas are going to be plowed first and other areas are going to be plowed last.  Because Secret Places and other housing developments south of the Beltline located far from our operations centers, they are on the end of our plow routes.  That means that you are generally going to be among the last areas of the City plowed during any given event.  It will take us 8 to 12 hours to complete a plowing operation depending on the volume of snow, the type of snow (wet and heavy or light and fluffy) and wind conditions.  This past storm dropped wet and heavy snow so it took us ten hours to complete our work.


You can learn more about our plowing operations at  You can also sign up to get e-mail updates on our snow plowing operations at


I hope this information is helpful.  If I can be of any further assistance, please let me know.




George P. Dreckmann

Strategic Initiatives Coordinator

City of Madison Streets Division

1501 W. Badger Rd

Madison, WI 53712


FAX 608267-1120


"People ask me what I do when there is no baseball.  I'll tell you what I do, I stare out the window and wait for spring."

                                                                                                                             Rogers Hornsby



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