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Snow & Ice Control Plan

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The City of La Crosse has 224 centerline miles of highway (arterial and collector) and residential streets under its jurisdiction. The Snow and Ice Control Program is a vital public service. The program is designed to keep the urban area functioning under the most adverse conditions.

Providing snow and ice control is an enormous task. Variations in weather conditions, time, temperature, precipitation amounts and rates, wind conditions, topography, and traffic conditions make the problem complex. Some hazards and obstacles faced by snowplow drivers are vehicles traveling too fast and close to the plow, parked cars, garbage cans, raised manhole castings, railroad tracks, and children sliding and building forts too close to the streets. No two storms are alike, yet the task at hand is similar.

Timing is critical. Weather forecasting is a very important element in this program. The readiness of the equipment, materials, and personnel is most important to provide a quick response to the emergency.

Snow Plowing Procedures

Precipitation Type Forecasted Snowfall Plowing Procedure
Flurries Trace to 1" We will not plow.  May salt highways or sand residential intersections.
Snow 1" to 2" Plows may be sent out to clear primary routes, depending on density, then salt. May sand secondary routes, intersections and hills.
Snow 2" to 3" Will plow primary routes, then salt. May plow secondary routes, depending on density, then sand intersections and hills.
Snow More than 3" Will plow all streets, salt primary routes and may sand secondary route intersections and hills. Highways may be re-plowed as directed by supervisor.
Ice Storm 1/4" or less Salt primary routes and salt or sand secondary routes, intersections  and hills.
Ice Storm 1/4" or more

Salt all streets. May salt or sand alleys.

 Figure 1     

Chemicals and Abrasives

Liquid calcium chloride (brine) is applied prior to a snowfall, as a preventative on hills, bridges, curves. Currently, sodium chloride (rock salt) is applied to main (arterial and collector) highways and hills when needed. To reduce consumption and activate the rock salt more quickly, brine will be added to rock salt when the temperature is below 15 degrees F. Rock salt is mixed into the sand to prevent it from freezing. Salt/sand mix is applied to residential intersections and hills as an abrasive.

Plow Routes

The goal is to keep all highways and major hills open during a snowfall and to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement.

The city is divided into 13 plow routes. These routes are divided into two (2) parts, primary routes (highways-arterial and collector streets) and secondary routes (streets abutting primary routes such as residential streets). Plow crews start on primary routes and depending on snowfall amounts may transition into secondary routes (see Figure 1).

Primary routes are designed to be plowed in approximately 3-4 hours and the complete route (primary & secondary) in approximately 8-10 hours for snow accumulations under 5”.

Individual maps have been prepared for each plow route and are updated annually. Most routes are plowed with teams of two (2), consisting of one motor grader and one single axle truck.

Plow routes that have trucks equipped with spreaders will salt or sand as the streets are plowed. Other routes that do not have trucks equipped with spreaders rely on one of three (3) available trucks to salt or sand their streets. When practical, sanding residential intersections will be accomplished concurrent with plowing operations. Sanding residential intersections may not be necessary after each snowfall.

Upon completion of snow plowing operations the supervisor will schedule a crew the following nights to plow islands of snow left behind from plowing around parked cars.