Snow Plowing/Ice Control Policy

                                         SNOW PLOWING/ICE CONTROL POLICY

1.           Introduction

The city of Ham Lake, Minnesota, finds that it is in the best interest of the residents of the city to assume basic responsibility for control of snow and ice on city streets. Reasonable ice and snow control is necessary for routine travel and emergency services. The city will attempt to provide such control in a safe and cost effective manner, keeping in mind safety, budget, personnel, and environmental concerns. The city will use city employees, equipment and/or private contractors to provide this service. This policy does not relieve the operator of private vehicles, pedestrians, property owners, residents and all others that may be using public streets, of their responsibility to act in a reasonable, prudent and cautious manner, given the prevailing street conditions.

2.           When Will the City Start Snow or Ice Control Operations?

The Public Works Superintendent or designated representative will decide when to begin snow or ice control operations. The criteria for that decision are:

A.         Snow accumulation of two (2) inches or more;

B.         Drifting of snow that causes problems for travel;

C.         Icy conditions which seriously affect travel; and

D.         Time of snowfall in relationship to heavy use of streets.

Snow and ice control operations are expensive and involve the use of limited personnel and equipment. Consequently, snowplowing operations will not generally be conducted for snowfall of less than two (2) inches.

3.           How Snow will be Plowed

Snow will be plowed in a manner so as to minimize traffic obstructions. The center of the roadway will be plowed first. The snow shall then be pushed from left to right on two-way streets. On one-way streets or where there is a center boulevard, snow may be pushed in either direction. The discharge shall go onto the boulevard area of the street. Snow on cul-de-sacs will normally be plowed to the outside in an attempt to provide the largest turning radius possible for emergency vehicle ingress and egress. When a plow goes on a bridge, the driver shall slow down so snow does not go over the bridge, if possible. In times of extreme snowfall, streets will not always immediately be able to be completely cleared of snow.

4.           Priorities and Schedule of Streets to be plowed

The city has classified city streets based on the street function, traffic volume and importance to the welfare of the community. Those streets classified as priority “A” streets” will be plowed first. These are high volume routes, which connect major sections of the city and provide access for emergency fire, police, and medical services. The second priority”B” streets are those streets providing access to schools and commercial businesses. The third priority “C” streets are low volume residential streets. The fourth priority”D” areas are gravel roads, cul-de-sacs and city parking lots.

During significant and severe storms, the city must be prepared to move personnel and equipment to maintain priority routes first. In fulfilling the need to have all priority streets safe and passable, when resources are limited, plowing of all other streets may be stopped at any time so resources can be shifted to priority routes.

Unforeseeable circumstances may cause delays in completing assigned plow routes. Such circumstances may include weather conditions that endanger the safety of snowplow operators and/or safe and effective operation of equipment, commuter traffic, disabled vehicles, poor visibility conditions, parked cars along streets, assistance to emergency response vehicles, equipment breakdown, and personnel shortages.

6.        Work Schedule for Snowplow Operators

Snowplow operators will be expected to work their assigned shifts. In severe snow emergencies, operators sometimes have to work longer shifts, but will be paid overtime for hours in excess of 40 per week. However, because of budget and safety concerns, no operator shall work more than a Fourteen-hour shift in any twenty four hour period. While work breaks are not guaranteed, generally operators will take breaks in accordance with city policy, provided the breaks do not interfere with city services or operations. In addition, operators will be allowed sufficient time to eat a meal during any shift which is eight or more hours. After a fourteen-hour shift, the operators will be replaced if additional qualified personnel are available. Exhibit A

7.        Traffic Regulations

            The city recognizes that snowplow operators are exempt from traffic regulations set forth in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 169 while actually engaged in work on streets, except for regulations related to driving while impaired and the safety of school children. Pursuant to this authority, snowplow operators engaged in snow removal or ice control on city streets have discretion to disregard traffic laws set forth in Chapter 169, except for laws relating to impaired driving and school children safety, when in their judgment, it is safe to disregard such laws. The privileges granted herein to operators of snow removal and ice control vehicles shall apply only if the vehicle is equipped with one lighted lamp displaying a flashing, oscillating, or rotating amber light placed in such a position on the vehicle as to be visible throughout an arc of 360 degrees.

8.        Weather Conditions

Snow and ice control operations will be conducted only when weather conditions do not endanger the safety of snowplow operators and equipment. Factors that may delay snow and ice control operations include: severe cold, significant winds, and limited visibility.

9.        Use of Sand, Salt, and Other Chemicals

The city will use sand, salt, and other chemicals when there are hazardous ice or slippery conditions. The city is concerned about the effect of such chemicals on the environment and will limit its use for that reason.

10.      Sidewalks, Trails and Driveways

The city will maintain the sidewalks of government buildings. The city does not plow walking trails.  It is the responsibility of the resident and/or property owner to remove all accumulated snow from all other sidewalks along public streets adjoining their property. This includes any snow plowed from public streets onto the sidewalk. One of the most frequent and most irritable problems in removing of snow from public streets is the snow deposited in the driveway during the plowing operations. Snow was being accumulated on the plow blade is no place to go but in the driveway. The driver makes every attempt to minimize the amount of snow deposited in the driveway, but the amount can still be sufficient. Based on priorities and staffing levels, the city personnel do not provide driveway cleaning.

11.      Mailboxes

Damage to a mailbox is a risk that snowplow operators face during their winter plowing requirements. The city will conduct a review of each mailbox damage claim to determine whether the city has any legal responsibility for the damage and, if so, to replace or provide reimbursement for the mailbox. If the city, in its discretion, determines that reimbursement or replacement is appropriate, the city may replace the mailbox with a standard size, non-decorative metal mailbox and replace the support post as necessary with a 4” x 4”, decay resistance wood support post, or swing away metal post, Both which will be installed by the city.

12.      Complaint Procedure

Complaints will be recorded on telephone logs. Calls requiring service will be transferred to Public works superintendent and forwarded to the appropriate supervisor for scheduling. Emergency complaints will be handled in an expeditious manner as resources are available.

13.      Deviation from Policy

The Superintendent of Streets may deviate from this policy when in his or her judgment it is in the best interest of the city or is necessary because of budget needs or other circumstances. Changes in priorities (lasting more than 4 hours) will be documented as to what caused such actions, why the change was necessary, and for how long the change is to be in effect. Those city employees and/or contractors affected will be notified immediately by radio or cell phone of such changes with all communications logged. Information logged will include the time and date of the communication, name of employee contacted, and how they were contacted. Any changes of priorities lasting more than 24 hours should be made in a written record and the public should be informed of such changes through normal methods used by the city for emergency notifications.

14.      Review and Modification of Policy

The Street Superintendent shall keep on file all comments and complaints received regarding this policy. The policy will be reviewed periodically. Any review will consider comments and complaints since the last review and any other factors affecting the policy or its implementation.

  15.   GUIDELINES FOR SNOW PLOW OPERATORS

1. Operators will be required to be on stand-by and able to report to work within one and one-half hours’ notice from November 15th to March 15th unless arrangements are made with the Public Works Superintendent or designated representative.

2. Operators will be responsible for the vehicle they are assigned to. This includes completing a daily maintenance and equipment check before and after each shift and reporting all deficiencies to the Public Works Superintendent. During snowplowing operations any and all downtime or breakdowns will be reported to the Public Works Superintendent or designated representative.

3. No snow removal vehicles shall be parked with less than three-quarters tank of fuel.

4. Operators shall not assist stranded vehicles by pushing, pulling or jump-starting. Operators may assist by calling for help, offering sand, or offering a helping hand.

5. To minimize damage, no equipment will exceed twenty miles per hour in residential areas.

6. The City recognizes that snowplow operators are exempt from traffic regulations set forth in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 169 while actually engaged in work on streets and highways, expect for regulations related to driving while impaired and the safety of school children. Pursuant to this authority, snowplow operators engaged in snow removal or ice control on streets or highways have discretion to disregard traffic laws set forth in Chapter 169, except for laws relating to impaired driving and school children safety, when in their judgment, it is safe to disregard such laws. The privileges granted herein to snow removal and ice control vehicles shall apply only if the vehicle is equipped with one lighted lamp displaying a flashing, oscillating or rotating amber or blue light placed in such a position on the vehicle as to be visible throughout an arc of 360 degrees. The foregoing provisions do not relieve the driver of an authorized snow removal or ice control vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons.

7. Operators will report all damage to the Public Works Superintendent or designated representative at the end of each shift.

8. When plowing and sanding is complete after each storm, salt/sand should be emptied from all trucks and all equipment should be cleaned, washed and greased.

9. If the operator has completed assigned route, the operator will contact the Public Works Superintendent and will be assigned to assist with other routes.

10. Before leaving duty at the end of the shift every effort should be made to contact the Public Works Superintendent or designated representative.

11. No plowing of private property or towing of vehicles will be permitted unless it directly affects traffic. Any questions should be directed to the Public Works Superintendent.

12. Every effort will be made not to damage mailboxes and trash containers or other structures in the right-of-way.

 

 

 

EXHIBIT A

SNOW PLOWING/WIDE-SPREAD HAZARDOUS ROAD CONDITIONS -

EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION OF PUBLIC WORKS

 

In the event of snowfall in excess of 2" or widespread hazardous road conditions where plowing or sanding throughout the community is necessary, the Public Works Superintendent, or designated representative shall call public works personnel as follows:

 

A. For snowfall accumulation exceeding 2", by 3:00 A.M. for a 4:00 A.M. commencement of snow plowing operation.

B. By 5:00 A.M. for a 6:00 A.M. commencement of citywide sanding operations.

 

This will allow the Public Works Department to prepare the streets for morning rush hour traffic.

Public Works will attempt every day to leave the streets in good winter driving condition when they go out of service at 3:30 P.M.

Public Works personnel are also on-call 24 hours a day to respond to salt/sand because of ice or snowfalls of 2 inches or less as directed by the Public Works Superintendent or designated representative.

Revised Fall 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018