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Snow Plowing & Parking
 
What are parking restrictions during snow events?
  • Routine Snow Removal Operations- No person shall park, abandon, or leave unattended any vehicle on any public street, alley, or City-owned off-street parking area at any time within forty-eight (48) hours after a snow fall of two (2) inches or more as reported by the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, unless within such time the street, alley, or parking area is cleared of snow.
  • Snow Emergency Declarations- No person shall park, abandon, or leave unattended any vehicle on any public street, alley, or City-owned off-street parking area during a snow emergency proclaimed unless the snow has been removed or plowed from said street, alley, or parking area and the snow has ceased to fall.  A snow emergency parking ban shall continue from its proclamation through the duration of the snow or ice storm and the 48-hour period after cessation of the storm, unless the snow has been removed or plowed from said street, alley, or parking area and the snow has ceased to fall.  The ban shall be of uniform application and the City Clerk is directed to publicize the requirements widely, using all available news media, in early November each year.  When predictions or occurrences indicate the need, the Mayor or, in the Mayor's absence, the Mayor Pro Tem, City Administrator, or City Clerk shall proclaim a snow emergency and the City Clerk shall inform the news media to publicize the proclamation and the parking rules under the emergency.

How is a Snow Emergency declared?

Whenever the Mayor or, in the Mayor's absence, the Mayor Pro-Tem, City Administrator, or City Clerk, after consultation with the Director of Public Works, determines that an emergency exists because of existing or threatened snow or ice conditions which necessitate prompt removal of accumulations of ice and snow from such streets and highways, the Mayor or, in the Mayor's absence, the Mayor Pro-Tem, City Administrator, or City Clerk may be appropriate public media declare a snow emergency.  Current practice is to notify local news media as well as post on the City's Facebook page.  Please note that the City and surrounding municipalities do not always declare snow emergencies at the same time.


Once the Snow Emergency has been declared how long do we have to remove our vehicles?

Under City Ordinance 69.10, Enforcement of this section shall begin no sooner than two (2) hours after the Mayor or, in the Mayor's absence, the Mayor Pro-Tem, City Administrator, or City Clerk proclaims the snow emergency.  At the discretion of the City a start time may be communicated which is greater than the minimum two (2) hours after proclamation.  The emergency may be extended or shortened when conditions warrant.


Whom do I contact in cases of Snow Plow Damage?

Please contact the City Hall at (712) 943-4244 to file a work order complaint.  Please note that there are also private contractors and citizens who drive around with plows on their vehicles.  All City vehicles are clearly marked with the City's emblem.


Who removes the snow from sidewalks?

It is the responsibility of the abutting property owners to remove snow, ice, and accumulations promptly from the entire sidewalk.  If a property owner does not remove snow, ice or accumulations within a reasonable time, but in no case no more than 24 hours after the snow or ice ceases to fall or accumulate, the City may do so and assess the costs against the property owner for collection in the same manner as a property tax.  The Council may establish a schedule for calculating costs by resolution.  There are some sidewalks that the City clears based on previous agreements, such as State or Federally funded trails, certain routes to schools, and the City owned properties.  Questions regarding un-shoveled sidewalks can be directed to City Hall at (712) 943-4244.


Who is responsible for the clearing of handicapped ramps?

 The abutting property owner is responsible to clean the handicapped ramp to make safe passage to the roadway pavement.


Can I throw the snow in the street when I shovel out my car or my sidewalk/driveway area?

Under City Ordinance 135.12, it is unlawful for any person to throw, push, or place or cause to be thrown, pushed or placed, any ice or snow from private property, sidewalks, or driveways onto the traveled way of a street or alley so as to obstruct gutters, or impede the passage of vehicles upon the street or alley or to create a hazardous condition therein; except where, in the cleaning of large commercial drives in the business district it is absolutely necessary to move the snow onto the street or alley temporarily, such accumulation shall be removed promptly by the property owner or agent.  Arrangements for the prompt removal of such accumulations shall be made prior to moving the snow. 


I have a medical condition.  Can you plow my street in case there is an emergency and an ambulance needs to get through?

The POTENTIAL for a medical emergency does not warrant priority treatment.  Anyone needing an ambulance in a medical emergency should contact 911 where all necessary steps will be coordinated.  Utilize 911 only in life threatening emergencies or for emergency Fire and Rescue services.  If you need help, but it's not an emergency, please contact the Police Non-Emergency Number at (712) 943-9604.


Why do the plows always push snow into my driveway?

For a resident this can be quite annoying, but unfortunately it cannot be helped.  The snow must, at minimum, be removed from traveled portion of the road but our plow drivers are requested to plow curb to curb where possible.  Driveways located in cul-de-sacs and around curves are more difficult to maintain and often see more snow than in areas in straight roadway sections.  If you must shovel do not throw the snow out onto the roadway as you may create a hazard for another vehicle, and if an accident were to occur you might be held liable.

There is, however, a method of clearing your driveway that can help minimize the amount of snow (and frustration) during the winter months:

  • If possible (not always practical), clear your driveway after we have finished plowing the roads back to the curb.  Keep in mind that City ordinance requires property owners to clear their sidewalks of snow/ice within 24 hours of the end of a storm.
  • When clearing your driveway, place as much snow as possible in the direction of travel, or on the downstream side of the road.
  • Clear an area upstream from your driveway opening to form a "pocket" for the snow from the road to go into.  The result? More of the snow from the road will go into the pocket and less will land in the end of your driveway. 

Why don't you clean my driveway?

The City does not clean my driveways for two (2) reasons: 1. There are over 1,500 driveways in the City.  The task to complete and the cost to clean all the driveways each snow event would be insurmountable.  2. The liability to the City for damage to the driveway approaches is cost prohibitive.


I have limited access to on-street parking.  Why do you always plow snow against my car?

The City must remove the snow from the traveled portion of the road.  On two-way streets where there is only parking on one side, the plow operator cannot push the snow away from the parked cars into the oncoming traffic, as it would create a hazard and liability.  Snow is always pushed away from the oncoming traffic.


Why does the plow not remove all of the snow from my road?

The plows are designed to ride on "guides" (shoes) that raise the blade approximately 3/8 inch from the surface of the roadway.  This is done to prevent damage to both the vehicle and infrastructure from raised manholes, catch basins or water valves.  When plowing, our goal is to make residential streets passable; not to clear them to the bare pavement.  Once the street has been plowed and salt/sand mix applied, the interaction of the salt and vehicular traffic is required to melt the remaining snow cover.  Streets with low traffic volumes will therefore remain snow covered longer.  Another issue occurs when snow events happen during the day and vehicles are packing down snow prior to plows being deployed.  The plow blades are not designed to cut ice or packed snow.


How do you decide what streets are higher priority?

The main routes are comprised of arterial roads and collector roads, as defined by traffic volumes, fire/hospital emergency routes, and school routes (if in session).


Why is the salt/sand mix not always effective in removing ice from the roads?

The minimum practical application range for salt is a pavement temperature of 15-20ºF and above.  While salt will melt snow and ice down to a pavement temperature of -6ºF, it can melt over five times as much ice at 30ºF as at 20ºF.  Thus the effectiveness of salt is sensitive to small differences in pavement temperature.  The City will attempt to apply only the amount required for temperature, time and use.  Too little and the roadway will refreeze, too much is a waste of money and resources.  Sand has no de-icing properties.  Sand is an abrasive substance and is used to increase traction for vehicles.


How much does the City spend on winter control annually?

The Public Works Department spends anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 a year for employee wages/benefits, fuel, salt/sand, vehicle purchasing, vehicles repairs, and other general operations.  The total cost is dependent upon number and size of snow events in any given year.  The City monitors its costs and operations in order to balance community expectations with responsible spending.


How much of my property taxes are spend on snow removal?

Zero.  The operations for maintaining the streets, which includes snow removal, are funded by the State Road Use Tax monies collected through fuel sales.


Sergeant Bluff, IA • 401 4th Street • PO Box 703 • Sergeant Bluff, IA 51054 • Ph: (712) 943-4244 • CityHall@CityofSergeantBluff.com
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