Randy Knuth, the public work director for the City of Rhinelander, gets many calls this time of year concerning the policy the city has adopted when it comes to snow removal. To answer those questions and calls, Knuth recently released the city’s policy on snow plowing and removal.
City of Rhinelander Policy/Procedure Manual:
The ability to react promptly and decisively to varying winter weather conditions with regard to snow removal and ice control on city streets and sidewalks is recognized to be an important and necessary function of government, for the safety and well-being of its citizens and visitors. It is therefore deemed to be prudent that standard policies and procedures be endorsed as to the desirable level of snow removal and ice control service to be provided in the City of Rhinelander.
Because of environmental and economical concern, it is not the city’s intent to provide “bare pavement” driving conditions at all times and at all locations during the winter season. City-wide application of highway salt will NOT generally be done except in the case of ice storm or similar extreme condition. Any salt application will be held to a minimum, as determined by the Superintendent of Public Works. Although hazardous areas such as hills, curves, railroad crossings, controlled intersections and arterial streets will be given priority attention to minimize slippery road conditions, it is the responsibility of motor vehicle operators to use care and common sense while driving on city streets when snow or ice conditions exist.
Street conditions will be monitored during normal working hours by the Public Works Superintendent or his designate. During non-working hours the Police Department will monitor changing weather conditions and will promptly notify the Superintendent or his designate of snow accumulation or slippery streets. Depending on the severity of the situation an appropriate number of trucks will be dispatched to begin plowing or spreading of sand and/or salt.
As a general rule, two inches or more of snow will be plowed. Areas will be plowed in the following order of priority; highways and emergency entrance to hospital; arterials and connector streets; residential areas and parking lots, parks and the cemetery.
The Public Works Superintendent will use his best judgment to determine deviations from this priority list, other priorities and problem areas as is necessary to respond to specific safety and emergency situations.
Snow plowing procedures in the downtown business district will vary, depending on the amount of snow accumulations: After a heavy snowfall, snow removal will usually be done in two phases: snow will be plowed near the curb. After traffic has eased, the plowed snow will be loaded onto trucks and hauled out of the downtown area the next regular working day.
A light snowfall will usually be plowed to the curb unless air temperatures are such that melting is occurring or is anticipated to occur. In this case, highway salt may be applied to hasten melting. Successive plowing of light snowfalls may result in sufficient accumulation next to the curb to warrant removal. In this case, the snow will be hauled away in the same manner as with a heavy snowfall.
Only City of Rhinelander trucks will be used to haul snow from the downtown area unless the Public Works Superintendent determines that the amount of snow or inadequacy of equipment is such that independent truckers are necessary to accomplish the task within reasonable time.
It is impossible to prevent snow from being pushed into driveways when the streets are plowed. In order to minimize this inconvenience to homeowners after a snowfall, it is intended that city crews complete the plowing of a given area within a relatively short period of time, rather than make periodic passes with the plow and each time deposit additional snow in driveways unless this procedure is required to keep the roads open.
In order to avoid damage to curbside mail boxes, snow plow trucks must necessarily keep a safe distance away. It is expected that property owners will have to do some snow removal to provide easy access to the mailbox by letter carriers. Mailboxes accidentally damaged by a snowplow will be reported to the City Clerk for processing as a damage claim. Damage to lawns from city snowplows which go over the curb will be repaired by the Public Works Department. If no curb is present, the Public Works Department will not be responsible for repair to damaged lawns.
Snow plowing is most efficient and safe when the streets are clear of obstructions such as parked vehicles. City Traffic Code prohibits over night parking from December 1 to April 1, and the Chief of Police is responsible for assuring compliance with this ordinance.
In the event of a major snowstorm or other weather condition causing serious public hazard or impairing movement of public safety, medical or other essential service vehicles, a SNOW EMERGENCY shall be deemed to exist for a period of 48 hours or until the streets have been made reasonably safe for public travel. Notice of a snow emergency shall be given by the Mayor over area radio stations and the local cable TV channel. Parking restrictions and towing of illegally parked cars will be in accordance with the Traffic Code.
Snow removal from problem area sidewalks is the responsibility of the abutting property owner or occupant. Snow and ice remaining on sidewalks and posing a hazard to the public shall be reported to the Police Department for enforcement of the ordinance. In the case of corner lots, the abutting property owner will be required to remove all snow from the sidewalk for light snow events. Where city plows deposit snow on sidewalks adjacent to a curb, the abutting owner is responsible to remove snow to create a path for pedestrian travel. Where city plows cause excessive buildup of snow at intersection corners, the plowed snow will be removed by the Public Work Department after all other higher priority snow removals are completed after a storm event. The priority of corner snow removal will follow the same priority as listed under item 3, by area as time permits.
Snow plowed or thrown on city streets from private driveways and parking lots are in violation of city ordinance. Violators will be reported to the Police Department for enforcement of the ordinance.