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Q&A on City snow removal policies and priorities

Post Date:01/21/2022 9:00 am

The City of Moorhead has had some recent questions about snow removal. Here are answers to several frequently asked questions and a link to our snow removal policies and procedures.

Q: How does the City prioritize which streets are done first?   

A: The City of Moorhead’s snow removal operations consist of four main phases:

  • Anti-Icing.   Before a snow event, crews apply a mixture of salt brine solution appropriate for the humidity, air temperature, and roadway temperature to our main thoroughfares City-wide (examples include Main Avenue, 20 Street, 34 Street). The solution and chemicals used are only effective or applicable if temperatures are above 15 degrees F. If applied at the wrong time or if temperatures drop faster than anticipated in advance of a snow event, the solution can freeze so crews are very careful when doing this procedure. The chemicals do a wonderful job keeping snow from packing and adhering to the roadway.  
  • Plowing all primary, secondary and emergency routes begins shortly after the City receives 1” to 2” of accumulation. Snow is pushed from the center of the roadway and placed as equally as possible on adjacent boulevards. Residential properties usually do not front on primary or emergency routes, so the streets in front of most homes do not fall in this category.  
  • City-wide plowing begins once the primary, secondary and emergency routes are clear and it has stopped snowing. Crews typically start between midnight and 4 am. The City is split into 10 zones; the objective is to provide an initial pass on both sides of all streets in all zones within 24 hours of snowfall ending. Clearing driving lanes for emergency service access is a priority. Snow may not be pushed all the way to the curb until the next regular maintenance day for your street, depending on how much snow accumulated and how windy it is. A citywide plowing operation normally takes between 10 and 14 hours, depending on the amount of snowfall. City staff do not clean private driveways, sidewalks or crosswalks. Chapter 8-1-5 of the City Code requires the owner and/or occupant of every building or vacant lot fronting any street shall clean the sidewalk and cross walk of snow and ice by 9 pm each day.  
  • Normal daily routines resume with crews pushing snow back as close to the curb as possible. Vehicles parked in the street during a no-parking maintenance day could be ticketed. Please move cars from streets as soon as possible after a snow event.

Q: Why do plows leave a large amount of snow at the end of my driveway and around my corner?

A: The boulevards between the curb and sidewalk is where the snow gets “stored” during our snow season. Because driveways connecting to the street run through the boulevard, they also “store” the snow. Homeowners need to shovel or blow snow on the driveways onto the boulevard or yards to keep driveways clear. The same situation occurs on corners where the crosswalks are within the right of way between the curb and sidewalk. The City does its best to help remove snow from corners from the busiest intersections when time allows, but this is a very time-consuming process that is only done after overall street system maintenance. In severe winters, this clearing might not happen for several weeks. This can impede  visibility at corners, so extra caution is needed.        

Q: Should I still leave my garbage and recycling out if there is a storm coming? 

A: Yes. Our sanitation crews start between 5-6 am every day, Monday through Friday in all weather.      

Q: What are the general rules for mail carrier accessibility to a mailbox?

A: From the United States Postal Service website: “For successful mail delivery during and after storms, we ask for the cooperation of our customers so that our employees return home safe at the end of each work day. Carriers are not required to deliver to locations where there are safety issues such as icy steps, snow-packed paths or icy overhangs.  Keeping your steps and sidewalk clear of snow and ice — as well as removing snow from around curbside mailboxes — allows us to provide you with the safest, most efficient service possible.”

For more information, please visit the City's snow removal information page

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