Spearfish updates snow information and advisory guide

December 22, 2018

SPEARFISH — The city of Spearfish revised its snow information and advisory guide this month, updating priority snowplow routes in new developments and growth areas.

Public Works Administrator Cheryl Johnson said that there are a few more priority routes shown on the updated guide’s map, available at cityofspearfish.com/document_center/PublicWorks/2018%20Snow%20Info%20Advisory%20Guide.pdf, and that there are no major changes to the policies, which are also outlined in the guide. It states that “Providing safe travel on emergency, major arterial, and school routes will be the primary goal” of winter weather operations.

Johnson described that during snowplowing operations, the issues the city deals with on a regular basis are vehicles parked on the streets and snow being pushed from private property onto public streets or rights-of-ways.

Both are violations of city code, outlined in chapter 14, which describes in Sec. 14-42 that such violations “may be punished by a fine in accordance to a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed, towed, and impounded at owner’s expense.”

People may not interfere or obstruct snow removal operations; park on the street during snow removal operations; place snow on public boulevards or streets; or driver through windrows left by snow removal operations in the middle of the street.

“On snow removal, our primary goal is for there to be no vehicles to be parked on any of the streets that would hinder safe and efficient snow removal,” Police Chief Pat Rotert said of the enforcement side of things. He explained that cars parked on the street, in addition to risking getting plowed in, hinder snowplowing operations, as the snowplows have to slow down to go around vehicles, increasing the chance of larger windrows, and slowing overall snow removal operations.

Johnson explained that when people push snow from private property onto public streets, alleys, and city-owned boulevards, it then becomes the city’s responsibility to move it. The department has been directed by the city council to reduce the amount of snow hauled and reduce its snow removal budget, so enforcement will be stepped up for violations of placing snow on public boulevards and streets.

“(The) things that affect us the most in how efficient we are and how effective we are, are parked cars and people pushing snow back into public right-of-way, especially after we’ve been through,” Johnson said.

She said that people have the option to store snow on their own property, which, in cases of parking lots, may mean that some parking spaces are covered with snow during that snow event. The city also provides a location for contractors to haul snow, at no cost. Every year, the city hosts a meeting with contractors who provide snow removal services to go over the policies, and Johnson said that these reminders were emphasized.

“We’re not getting overnight success with this … but it’s something we have to get better about enforcing,” she said.

Johnson added that snow removal operations vary by event. There are times when the city would not plow curb to curb; they may plow the driving lanes only, if warmer weather is coming, to allow nature to take care of melting the snow in the parking lanes. The guide states, “The amount of snow and conditions during each event will determine the time required to remove snow and the degree to which streets are plowed.” The department tries to manage and predict not only accessibility but also how future drainage is affected by snow removal operations, Johnson said.

“A lot of things come into play on how we actually approach every event,” she said. “Every event is going to be different.”

After priority routes, residential streets are addressed, and additional areas in Spearfish plowed by the city are all city-owned buildings and sidewalks adjacent to city property; city parking lots; the rec path system; and well houses and lift station. The city does not plow alleys, Johnson said; some alleys may be plowed by private contractors or homeowners’ associations, but in general, the city does not plow alleys unless there is an issue. The city may put down some salt on a paved alley, but for the most part, the city does not provide snow removal in alleys and does not allow contractors to plow alleys that are not paved.

The city continues to use an enhanced deicing product with components that makes it a little less corrosive – though it is still a salt product – which is mixed with sand for a 50-50 blend to help with traction and reduce the volume of salt applied. Johnson explained that because of the sand, the city must come back at a later time to sweep and collect the sand to avoid creating dust and having the sand wash into storm drains. Street sweeping is one of the primary operations that follows snow removal, but it is dependent on temperature, Johnson said: It must be 50 degrees or warmer for the street sweepers to be effective.

She added that the city does not apply salt to areas of new concrete within the first year of its life and that crews are dispatched to sweep off downtown sidewalks, bumpouts, etc., following snow removal, as well.

Rotert said that other issues that arise during snow season are people overdriving the conditions and people not shoveling their sidewalks after a snow event, which can create icy sidewalks or impassable routes for those on foot. Residents are asked to clear the sidewalks adjacent to their property of ice and snow as soon as possible, generally within 24 hours, after the end of a snow event. They are also asked to clear snow around their mailbox approaches and keep fire hydrants accessible adjacent to their property.

For more information or to obtain a list of snow removal contractors, call the Public Works Department at 642-1333.

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