The ABCs of city snow removal
Enjoy this quick review about snow removal in Minnetonka, as well as a few tips for enjoying the winter weather safely!
Always ready to plow snow—that’s the motto of the Minnetonka Public Works snow removal crew! By November 1, snow removal crews have been assigned and all equipment is prepped and ready to roll in event of a snowfall (see “V”).
Bare pavement is not the goal of snow removal in the city of Minnetonka. Instead, roadways are cleared and then treated to hasten melting of any remaining snow. While we all have places to go and things to do, it’s unrealistic to expect driving in January to be as easy and trouble-free as driving in July—despite the very best efforts of our snowplow crews.
Clear snow from your driveway, but don’t push it into or across the street. City ordinances require that snow be placed on the right-of-way adjacent to your property. If you use a contractor to remove your snow, it is your responsibility to make the contractor aware of city snow removal ordinances.
Discourage kids from playing in or tunneling through the large piles of snow left behind by plows. Snow piles can collapse and trap children, while passing snowplows could hit the pile and injure children hiding inside. The backyard is a fun and safe place to play in the snow!
Easy does it—that will be the motto of snow plow crews when it comes to salt application on city roads. While driver safety is the primary concern during the winter months, the protection of water resources and the environment from excessive salt use is a secondary concern. Watch the December and January Minnetonka Memos for more information about the innovative methods being used by public works for snow removal and ice control this year!
Frost patrol starts in December and continues through February. Public Works employees are on the roads at 5 a.m. five days a week to check for frost and light snow. Should they find these conditions, chemicals are spread to increase traction and promote melting.
Garbage cans and recycling containers should be set out behind the curb line so they won’t be knocked over by snowplows or the snow coming off the plow.
Heavy or even average snowfall requires a three-day operation to clear (in this order) streets, parking lots, sidewalks, trails and ice rinks. Removal of snow from city streets (see “I”) is the first priority, and since the amount of personnel and equipment working on the parking lots, sidewalks, trails and ice rinks is smaller, it takes more time to clear these areas.
In an average snowfall, the goal of city crews is to clear the streets and cul-de-sacs within 10 hours.
Just about every day—that’s how often chemical control trucks work during a normal winter, with noteworthy events occurring about 25 times per year. Major plowing events take place about 12 times each year.
Keep parked vehicles off city streets between 2 and 6 a.m., in accordance with city ordinance. Illegally parked vehicles may hinder snowplows from fully clearing streets. Call the Minnetonka Police Department at 952.939.8500 if you are concerned about a vehicle parked on your street.
Less than half the salt than a decade ago—that’s the target for Minnetonka Public Works to combat snow and ice. All snowplows now carry electronic devices that precisely measure and record the amount of salt used on roadways, and this information is reported to environmental authorities supporting efforts to monitor health of the surrounding wetlands. In addition, public works is implementing a number of very progressive, technology-supported initiatives this year designed to reduce chemical use and save money while continuing to provide high levels of winter maintenance service.
Mailboxes that are physically hit and damaged by city snowplows will be repaired. However, mailboxes that break from the force of snow coming off the plow will not be repaired. Help us help you avoid mailbox damage by inspecting/refurbishing your mailbox post and structure prior to the snow season to make sure it can withstand rugged winter conditions.
No county or state highways or private roads are plowed by city personnel. They are only responsible for city roadways.
Overpasses and bridges are notoriously slick in the winter, even when surrounding roadways are not, so be careful when driving across them.
Put in curb markers to show the edge of your lawn or driveway and make the snowplow driver’s job easier. The city provides free markers to residents—stop by Minnetonka City Hall, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd., or Minnetonka Public Works, 11522 Minnetonka Blvd., to pick up your markers. Remember, installation is easier when the ground isn’t frozen solid!
Questions about snow removal? Call Minnetonka Public Works at 952.988.8400. If your concern doesn’t require an immediate response, contact Minnetonka Mike.
Respect snowplows, both as a pedestrian and as a motorist. Snowplows travel much slower than the posted speed and the driver’s field of vision is severely limited. Never pass on the right, since plows are pushing snow and spreading sand chemicals behind them. Stay 70 feet (four car lengths) from the snowplow so the driver can see you.
Snowplow boulevard damage will be repaired by the city. The city does not repair or replace sprinklers, fences, or rock gardens that are placed in the city right-of-way. (generally extending several feet behind the edge of the roadway) Report plow damage through Minnetonka Public Works at 952.988.8400 or through Minnetonka Mike. Repairs usually are made in May and June.
Timing of the start of snow removal depends on when the snowfall ends. In most cases, plowing operations begin between midnight and 4 a.m., but the exact time depends on the predicted start and end of the snowfall and its intensity. Usually two inches or more of snow accumulation trigger the start of city-wide snow removal.
Understanding that citywide snowplowing is accomplished in three separate steps will help you plan your driveway snow shoveling or blowing accordingly:
- The first pass provides an initial access path down the streets.
- After all streets have received a first pass, full-width plowing takes place, often within a few hours of the first pass.
- Final cleanup occurs the next day and includes intersection cleanup, sanding and plowing where vehicles were parked.
Vehicles—more than 29, ranging from dump trucks to loaders to pickups—have been prepped by Minnetonka Public Works and are ready for snow removal service this winter (see “A”).
Weather forecasts are useful in preparing for the conditions. Keep up on forecasts. Drive carefully, even if the streets have been plowed.
EXpect to drive carefully after a snowfall, even if the streets have been plowed.
You’ll save precious minutes in event of a fire by adopting a hydrant and keeping it clear of snow throughout the winter.
Zones are assigned to each snowplow driver. Most drivers stay in that area for the entire winter, allowing him or her to become very familiar with the roadway features in a specific area. Mainline, or collector, streets are plowed first with residential streets and cul-de-sacs plowed last.