Snow Removal FAQs
Q: Will the City issue a warning before they issue a ticket for failure to remove snow?
Unfortunately, no. Snow removal is a matter of public safety and access, so we do not issue warnings. On occasion, the City has delayed enforcement after large snow events.
Property owners are responsible for snow removal. If you rent, read your lease to check who handles snow removal. It is easiest to remove snow soon after it falls. When you delay, removal becomes more difficult.
- Getting a Citation: Door Card Information, Building Inspection
- Paying M.G.O. 10.28(1), Ordinance Citation, Municipal Court
- Report an un-shoveled sidewalk.
Q: How much of my sidewalk do I have to clear?
You must clear the entire width of the sidewalk, from edge to edge. It is not enough to carve a narrow path. People who use wheelchairs, canes, strollers, etc. need space to maneuver.
Q: Can I place the snow from my sidewalk into the street?
No. Pile snow into your yard and terrace. It is against law to throw snow into the street.
Q: If I own a corner lot, do I have to clear the curb ramp, the part of the sidewalk leading to the street?
Yes. You must remove snow and ice from the curb ramp, regardless of its source. If you clear the ramp and a plow pushes snow back on the ramp, we will issue you a warning. You will have to clear the curb ramp by the next day to avoid a ticket.
Q: I removed the snow but my sidewalk is icy. What should I do?
Apply sand to the icy sidewalk to provide traction. We provide free sand at many locations across the City. The sand may also help with melting the ice. Keep sanding your sidewalk until you can remove the ice.
If you use salt, please note Building Inspection may issue fines for the excessive use of salt. A good rule of thumb for coverage: a 12-ounce coffee mug full of salt is enough to treat 10 sidewalk squares. We are enforcing this rule to help keep our waterways clean. It only takes one teaspoon of salt to pollute five gallons of water to a level that is toxic. For more information on salt use, visit the Oversalting page on Wisconsin Salt Wise.
Q: What if I have difficulty clearing the snow from my sidewalk or driveway because of my age/disability?
If you need more time to shovel due to age or disability, we can add your address to the snow extension list. The extension gives single-family, owner-occupied homes an extra 72 hours to clear snow. To add your home to the list, please call Building Inspection at (608) 266-4551 and provide your address.
The City of Madison does not clear private sidewalks. Use 211 and search, "Residential snow shoveling" to find free or low-cost services. NewBridge Madison has a limited number of volunteers to help older adults. The earlier in the year that you call, the easier it will be to find services.
Q: Do I have to clear my driveway or private sidewalks?
Madison General Ordinance (MGO) Section 10.28 only pertains to public sidewalks. However, MGO 27.05(2)(d) requires maintenance of:
- private walks.
- parking areas.
If snow or ice covers these areas, we may issue an Official Notice. The notice will direct the owner to clear the area(s) by the due date. The Postal Service may refuse to deliver your mail if your sidewalk is a hazard.
Q: What is the schedule for clearing priority crosswalks and wheelchair ramps?
Removal begins with the Isthmus Pedestrian Corridor and the School/Handicap crosswalks. We assign eight crews citywide for three consecutive nights to begin this removal. Crosswalk snow removal continues throughout the regular workday as well. Crosswalk snow removal continues until crews check the entire City. This process takes 3-4 weeks to complete. When there's a storm, we clear City-owned sidewalks and the School/Handicap crosswalks during regular business hours.
Q: When are bus stops and city-owned sidewalks cleared?
We remove snow from bus stops and City-owned sidewalks as needed. City crews clear City sidewalks and bus stops with concrete pads as part of general plowing. Once the priority routes are complete, we begin snow removal from other Madison bus stops.
Q: What can I do about snowplows that block my driveway with snow?
Property owners must clear snow from the bottom of the driveway. This is an unfortunate side effect of plowing City streets. We must plow snow to the curb. As a result, the heavy snow from the plows block driveways.
Q: What do I do if I'm not going to be home for an extended period and there is a snowfall?
If you are not at home or you otherwise cannot clear snow, you must get someone to shovel for you.
Q: What does the City of Madison do about snow & ice during the winter?
Here are the City of Madison's Procedures for Snow & Ice Control.
Q: What are the City of Madison snow plowing priorities?
Read the City of Madison Snow Plowing Priorities.