Winter – The Days of Shovelry

Snow Removal

To call the management of the greatest snow on earth “snow removal” is actually a misnomer. We can’t really remove snow. We can only move it around until it melts and goes away. But we still have to make a collective effort, a dedicated, community effort, to keep our roads and sidewalks clear and safe to navigate. It requires heft and sweat and consistency.

This post is a friendly reminder that when it snows, residential and business property owners are responsible for keeping sidewalks safe.

The Provo City Code states that the owner, tenant or lessee of property must remove snow or ice from the sidewalks any time that the average snow depth exceeds one inch, or when snow or ice on the sidewalk presents an unreasonably dangerous condition.  Most cities have a similar requirement.

Here’s what we all need to do:

  • Park cars off the street.
  • Move obstacles like basketball stands and disabled vehicles off the street.
  • Place garbage and recycling containers close to the curb and bring them in as soon as you can.
  • Clear your sidewalk any time the snow gets deeper than an inch. (Remember, you, as the owner, tenant or lessee of property are required to remove snow or ice within 24 hours.)
  • Consider those around us who need some help such as older neighbors, neighbors who are out of town. Help them out!
  • If you leave town, make arrangements for snow removal in your absence.
  • Take care not to pile the snow high and don’t pile it into the street. Don’t blow it into the street either. Leave the sight lines open. (If the snowplow throws snow onto your walk, please understand it’s unavoidable and clear the way again.)
  • Remember, the snowplow trucks are difficult to maneuver and may have less traction than a car. Don’t try to pass one on a hill. Give a snowplow plenty of room.
When removing snow from sidewalks, property owners should make every effort to keep the snow on their property to prevent obstructing street travel or limiting the visibility of motorists. Some sidewalks are so close to travel lanes that city and UDOT snow plow crews may throw snow from the street onto sidewalks.  While this can be frustrating for property owners, it does not reduce the importance of keeping sidewalks safe for pedestrians.

During a snowstorm, snowplows are sent out after snow starts to accumulate. Snow plowing on arterial and collector roads always takes a first priority. For obvious reasons the high capacity roads must come before smaller neighborhood roads. Next in priority comes regulated intersections, hillsides and curves followed by secondary and residential streets.

The City has 8 main routes and plows that are put to work each storm. It’s a daunting task. The plows have 610 miles of road to clear and tons of snow to move. (Last year, the crews spread 2,000 tons of salt.) It takes time, concentrated effort and skill.
I’m grateful for both our crews and our residents that have all been very patient. As a City we will continue to evaluate our policy and look for methods to deliver the best possible service with the resources that are given to us.

By working as a cohesive community, we increase the effectiveness of our efforts and make our city a safer place to walk and drive. The public may report sidewalk snow and ice hazards to the city by dialing 3-1-1.  You can also read the city ordinance regarding sidewalk snow removal here (look for section 9.16.040).

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  1. John

    It might help if the trucks kept their plows in the down position, and actually moved the snow.

    I saw a number of trucks Monday morning going down streets that really needed the snow removed, with their plows in the up position. Sand/Salt only goes so far…

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