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Winter Weather Update from City Hall | Environment

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Winter Weather Update from City Hall
Winter Weather Update from City Hall

As you know, the winter weather of the last several weeks has left East Grand Rapids neighborhoods with a deep blanket of snow. Public Works Director Ken Feldt is providing the following update and policy explanation for all residents to explain the current conditions and service delays.

Streets & Intersections: Crews are continuing to plow side streets, cul-de-sacs and to remove snow from intersections. While every street has at least a wide center lane cleared, it will take time to push the snow back further toward the curbs. Employees are also beginning to work on pushing back or removing the piled snowbanks at intersections. Please use caution when approaching or turning at intersections as the tall snowbanks can block visibility. Above-freezing temperatures this weekend may also help reduce the size of the snowbanks.

Road Salt: Road salt becomes ineffective for ice and snow removal when temperatures drop to approximately 8º F or below. As soon as temperatures increase, road salt will be applied to all major streets and as needed along all remaining streets in the City. The forecast for the next several days predicts moderating temperatures which should assist with the clearing of the packed snow/ice covering the streets.

Sidewalk Cleaning: The City’s sidewalk snow removal equipment utilizes V-plows which work well with typical snow fall accumulations. However as snow depths along the side of the sidewalk increase, the V-plows ride up and the snow slips back in when trying to clear sidewalks of snow. Rather, a snow blower attachment is being utilized on one of the two units available. The snow blower attachment works well but is much slower at completing the work. All sidewalks designated for “school priority routes” have been cleaned utilizing the snow blower. Remaining sidewalks will be cleaned but will take considerable time to complete. The City’s sidewalk snow blower will remain in operation until all sidewalks have been cleaned. With the deep snow and drifting, this is a fairly slow process, but is being addressed as quickly as possible.

Tree limbs and Christmas Tree Collection: The collection of downed tree limbs from the ice storm and discarded Christmas trees and holiday wreaths has been delayed. City crews have been dedicated to snow storm event street cleaning and an abundance of winter water service line leaks and repairs. Many of the trees and branches are now covered with snow accumulation or frozen in place; therefore collection of all items may not be accomplished until a thaw occurs. We appreciate your patience as we continue to work on this service that has simply not been able to be completed with recent weather conditions. 

Winter Maintenance Policies Explained

The City has categorized all City streets as either priority #1 routes (heavily used streets) or priority #2 routes (all remaining city streets). 

Depending on weather conditions and anticipated storm forecast, priority #1 routes are plowed and salted to attempt bare pavement conditions. Immediately after a winter storm event, all priority #1 routes are plowed and salted as needed.

Priority #2 routes are plowed after a snowfall of 3 inches or more. Initially, just the center of the streets are cleared in order to cover all city streets expeditiously and to insure all residents have immediate ingress and egress to their homes. Thereafter, the street is cleared from curb to curb as time and manpower permit. The second cleaning task is typically completed during normal working hours the day following a winter storm. 

Minor amounts of road salt are applied to priority #2 routes as necessary and at school crossings, approaches to stop signs, and roadway curves and hills. 

During snow storm events and immediately following, residents are encouraged to not park in the street in order to help crews clear streets as completely and safely as possible. As snow accumulates in areas with heavy on street parking usage, the city will place temporary no parking signs in order to facilitate street cleaning. 

City sidewalks are plowed after an accumulation of 3 inches or more and are only commenced after city streets have first been plowed. To do so beforehand would cause the sidewalk crossings at street intersections to be plowed full again. Sidewalks along designated “School priority routes” are plowed as needed to insure they are completed prior to the start of school. Unfortunately, not every sidewalk can be considered a “school priority route.”

City ordinance prohibits private snow removal contractors from depositing snow into the traveled portion of the street, or opposite the street from the driveways they are licensed to plow. Anyone witnessing this practice is encouraged to identify the contractor and report the matter to the City’s Public Works Department by calling 940-4817 or logging the matter into the City’s online “Request Tracker” software