This debris contains oil and solvents form cars and trucks, sand spread in winter, lawn chemicals, and phosphorous-containing leaves. Street sweeping prevents this material from washing into our storm sewers and then out to our lakes and streams.
In 2018, the Streets Division collected over 4,800 tons of debris by using the street sweepers. That material is hauled to the Dane County Landfill.
In the fall, when the the vast majority of the material the sweepers collect consists of leaves, the material is taken to the city's partner compost site.
As soon as weather permits, generally mid to late March, the Streets Division begins the annual Spring Cleanup. This program is designed to clean up all the debris that accumulates on our streets during the winter. The goal for the spring cleanup is to sweep every street twice - weather permitting - prior to the start of the spring rains. Spring cleanup can last up to six weeks.
During the 2018 spring cleanup phase (which lasted only three weeks due to the cold and snowy April weather), over 1,500 tons of debris was collected from the roads.
As part of this program we conduct a night sweeping operation. A deployment of street sweepers works from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.
A regular daytime sweeping operation of Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. also runs during the spring clean up time.
From May 1 to November 15 daytime parking restrictions are in effect in the 2nd, 6th, and 13th aldermanic districts. The Clean Streets/Clean Lakes (CSCL) sweeping program is a special environmental program designed to keep pollutants from washing into our lakes and streams. Some areas in these aldermanic districts also have year round CSCL restrictions - so be sure to pay attention to the parking signs.
The Clean Streets/Clean Lakes sweeping program uses daytime parking restrictions to provide street sweepers access to the curb to remove debris. The special daytime parking restrictions are posted on street signs in the participating neighborhoods.
Help keep our lakes clean by paying attention to the parking signs when downtown.
This particular program has been in place since 1995.
Many streets in the downtown isthmus are regularly clogged with parked cars, making street sweeping very difficult. In order to get access to these unswept areas, the Streets Division will conduct a post and tow sweeping operation.
These select streets will be marked with temporary no parking signs. Violators of these no parking signs will be ticketed and towed. And then the street will be swept.
Again, be sure to do your part for our lakes and be mindful of parking signs and restrictions. Plus, you'll avoid an expensive ticket and the inconvenience of having your vehicle towed.
When the spring cleanup ends, most of our street sweepers work on streets throughout the City. Depending on weather conditions and mechanical breakdowns, the Streets Division aims to sweep each Madison about once a month. This regular program continues until the middle of October.
Keep in mind that sweepers cannot get to the curb when there are obstructions like parked cars, trailers, and even refuse & recycling carts. Street sweepers are very slow vehicles, and with so many lane miles to sweep, crews cannot always loop back to sweep from areas that were blocked by obstructions. Be sure to do your part by avoiding placing your collection carts in the gutter, and be sure to abide by all parking rules.
Street sweepers need water to work effectively. They are not used when temperatures drop below freezing to avoid damage. Plus, street sweepers are very complex pieces of equipment that require considerable preventive maintenance throughout the year.
Therefore, during the winter when not much sweeping would occur, the sweepers are taken out of service and sent to be refurbished.
Once the annual overhauls are complete the sweepers are brought back to the Streets Division ready for another year protecting our lakes.
If the weather cooperates, and the equipment is available, crews will perform street sweeping in winter. We need to above freezing temperatures and curb lines free of snow.
Bike path sweeping
Bike paths, which are also called shared-use paths, are swept by the Streets Division by using a smaller sweeping vehicle. The Streets Division has one such sweeper in the fleet.
Shared-use path sweeping begins when the weather is warm enough so the ground under the paths can withstand the weight of the sweeper. Shared-use paths do not have the same road base as a typical residential street. When the ground is soft due to the spring thaw, running the heavy sweeper on the paths could damage the pavement. In order to avoid these potential costly repairs, crews wait until the ground is stable and the frost is gone.
Shared-use paths are swept multiple times during the course of the year.