Posted on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020 at 10:14 am
As we prepare as a City and as residents, for the upcoming winter storm, I wanted to share a recent message from our Streets Division. Please be safe as you remove snow from your property, and be patient with City staff as we do the same.
This winter will be different.
The pandemic will have an effect on the snowplowing operations.
Training opportunities for our less experienced plow drivers have been limited since we cannot (and should not) ride in vehicles together. Also, due to the hiring freeze, there are fewer snow plow operators available than in years past.
Safety will not be compromised. And our expectations for the quality of our operations have not changed.
The challenges above will be felt, though. Roads may not be plowed back far enough to the curb on the first pass, or corners not quite cut perfectly, or the citywide plowing operations may be slower. But we will get it right – it will just take us more time.
While it may take us longer to get some of the finer points of winter maintenance completed, residents can still count of us to get the job done and make our roads safe.
Please encourage residents to contact us directly for questions, complaints, or problems with snow-related issues. This is the fastest way to get these issues addressed.
The best choice is the snow removal Report a Problem form. All of our field supervisors receive, prioritize, and address these as quickly as we can.
Residents can also call the Streets Division office that services your home. For areas east of South Park Street, call 608-246-4532. West of South Park Street residents should call 608-266-4681. When our plows are out, someone is staffing our phones.
And any resident who wants to know more about our snow plow operations can sign up to receive Snow Plow Alerts where we explain our operations each time our plows go out.
The Three Common Complaints
There are common misconceptions about plowing that residents oftentimes feel are failures of operations, when it’s really a normal part of snowplowing operations.
There’s still snow on the roads. / The plow isn’t all the way down.
Snowplows always leave behind a layer of snow on the road surface. They cannot push down to peel up that last bit.
Salt is the only tool that can remove that final layer of snow. And only the major thoroughfares receive salt.
Neighborhood streets are not salted so they will have snow on them throughout the winter
A longer explanation about the differences between the streets that are salted and the ones that are not can be found here.
The plow pushed snow into my driveway!
Plow trucks ride close to the road’s edge in order to clear the whole street. Snow builds up on the plow’s blade because the curb and terrace trap it in place. Driveway aprons create a gap, and when the plow truck drives by them, all of the snow built up on the blade will slide off into that opening. Plow drivers are not choosing to fill driveways – its physics.
There are no mechanical solutions available to prevent this, either. Straightening the plow, as is often suggested, would leave snow in the roads. And most trucks in the city plowing fleet use a plow extension called a wing that is attached to the body of the truck. The wing rides along the curb and it cannot be straightened.
Snow in the driveway is as frustrating as it is unavoidable. Streets Division supervisors will still investigate complaints and correct the situation if a mistake was made – but more often than not, a snow-filled driveway is a product of a well-plowed road.
We’re always last to be plowed!
No one is assigned to be plowed last. And no one is assigned to be first, either.
Citywide plowings begin when there is three or more inches of snow on the roads and the storm is at or near its end. When the process is underway, the city is divided into several sub-areas, and each of those areas are assigned plowing equipment from the city fleet or from a heavy equipment contractor. And plowing operations all start at the same time.
Madison has nearly 1,800 miles of traffic lanes to plow – that’s the distance from here to the Mojave Desert in California. Plowing the whole city, from every arterial to cul-de-sac takes a lot of time. It can take 12 to 14 hours from start to finish, and even longer during deep snowfall. And that still leaves a lot of cleanup work that’s completed in the days after a storm as crews need to return to plow back areas blocked by parked cars or other obstructions.
Thank you for your time and attention.