Snow Plowing Questions and Answers
The Township of Howell has approximately 480 curb miles of roads to plow, many cul-de-sacs and circles, along with several public facilities including the park and ride and 10 municipal owned buildings. The snow plan divides the community into twelve plow routes. The Township has approximately 35 vehicles for plowing. The larger trucks are assigned the busier thru streets. The cul-de-sacs, which require greater maneuverability, are maintained by the smaller vehicles.
The goal of the Township's snow removal plan is to have all of the streets cleared, as close to curb as possible, fourteen hours after the stop of a 4-6 inch snowfall. High winds may delay this goal as equipment is diverted back to busier roads. Icing, mechanical problems, snow falls of long duration, and other public emergencies may also interfere with this goal. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the Public Works Department's snow removal efforts.
WHEN ARE STREETS PLOWED?
Plowing generally begins when snow accumulation reaches three inches or sooner if the roads are determined by the police department to be hazardous. If there is a light snowfall and the afternoon sun is melting the fallen snow, it will be left to Mother Nature to remove the snow.
WHY IS SNOW PILED ON MY CORNER?
Snow that accumulates across the side road at the street corner needs to be pushed back onto the corner. This is done to properly clear the street radius and allow cars to turn. The snowplow driver typically pushes snow back onto the corner in the direction the truck is traveling. This is why a particular corner may get more snow on it than another. It is not practical to require that the large snowplow truck attempt to maneuver around the intersection to equally distribute snow on opposite corners. This is difficult to accomplish and is also time-consuming during significant snowstorms.
Snow piled at the street corner is of particular concern where there may be school bus stops. If there is an accumulation of snow at the corner of a bus stop, children may have to move up the street in order to board the school bus. Please instruct children not to climb on the piles that have accumulated at the corners. If a snow pile on a particular corner becomes a sight distance problem, please call the Public Works Department and the snow can be removed as time permits (732-938-4500 x 2450).
WHEN ARE SIDEWALKS TO BE CLEARED?
The Township Code § 265-11. Duty to remove snow and ice is as follows:
A. The owner, occupant or tenant or premises abutting or bordering on any street in the Township of Howell shall remove all snow and ice from the abutting sidewalks of such street or the abutting right-of-way actually used by the public, or in the event of ice which may be so frozen as to make removal impractical, shall cause the same to be thoroughly covered with sand, ashes or other appropriate substances within 12 hours of daylight after the same shall fall or be formed thereon so as to permit safe passage over any such sidewalk or right-of-way by the public.
B. The owner, occupant or tenant of premises used by the public or business invitees shall remove all snow and ice from the sidewalks, streets rights-of-way and parking areas used by the public in the transaction of business thereat, and in the event of ice which may be so frozen as to make removal impractical, shall cause the same to be thoroughly covered with sand, ashes or other appropriate substances within 12 hours of daylight after the same shall fall or be formed thereon so as to permit safe passage over any such sidewalk or right-of-way by the public.
C. The owner of real property upon which there has been constructed any private street, highway, lane, alley or other roadway or right-of-way which is open to the public or to which the public is invited shall remove all snow and ice from such areas within the time and in accordance with the methods set forth hereinbefore.
*Exception: In the event of a State or Federally declared emergency, the 24 hour clock will commence once the emergency is lifted.
WHY IS MY STREET ALWAYS THE LAST ONE TO BE PLOWED?
There are many miles of streets and many cul-de-sacs within the Township. Typically, the large snowplow will concentrate on the major streets within each particular subdivision. Once the main streets have been plowed, the large trucks will move to the secondary streets within each subdivision. Public Works keeps route layouts logical and efficient to save fuel and salt.
Typically, circles with center islands take approximately 20 minutes to be cleared. Cul-de-sacs that do not have islands in the center are the most time consuming, usually taking approximately 40 minutes to plow. Another factor that affects the plow's arrival in your specific area has to do with equipment failures or breakdowns. If a truck is out of service for any period of time, it adversely affects snow removal within your area.
Public Works makes every effort to reduce the potential for breakdowns; however, breakdowns still occur. It should take approximately five hours to make one pass through their entire route allowing one passable lane. If the snow is a heavy and sustained storm, the truck may have to make many passes in an effort to keep roads passable.
WHY IS SNOW ALWAYS LEFT AT THE END OF MY DRIVEWAY?
Although crews do not place snow in driveways on purpose, there is no practical way for the snow plow operator to cut off the window of snow when crossing a driveway. This problem is especially acute in cul-de-sacs because this is a very confined space. Cul-de-sacs require that all of the snow that is on the roadway within that confined space be placed along the outside of the circle. The problem is compounded by the fact that each homeowner then must clear their driveway, which places large piles on the corners of the drives.
One thing you can do to reduce the amount of snow that is plowed in front of your driveway is to place as much of the snow as possible to the right side of your drive, as you face the street. This reduces the chance of snow previously removed from the driveway being pushed back onto your drive. This suggestion, however, may not work in cul-de-sacs that have driveway openings placed close together.
WHY CANT PLOWS PUSH SNOW TO SIDE OF ROAD WITHOUT MAILBOXES OR TOWARD CENTER ISLANDS?
Every effort will be made to take unique street circumstances into account. However, it is extremely difficult and time consuming to push at a reverse angle, particularly around turns, circles and cul-de-sacs. Trucks are not built to be articulated into an angle that would allow this type of plowing, and centrifugal force causes the snow to move off of the plow toward the outside of the turn. Public Work's goal in clearing all streets is to maintain as much of the normal pavement width as possible, while at the same time, allowing acceptable access to the mailboxes by the postal carriers.
WHAT TO DO WHEN HAZARDS ARE IDENTIFIED AFTER PLOWING OPERATION HAVE ENDED?
Call the Howell Township Public Works Department at 732-938-4500 x2450. If this occurs after 4:30 P.M. or on weekends, you should call the non-emergency number at the Howell Police Department at 732-938-4111. Please do not leave messages at the municipal building. These messages may create duplication of effort or go unanswered for a period depending on conditions. For example, if it snows on a Friday evening the message may not be received until Monday at which point the hazard may have already been resolved through either follow-up plowing or a police initiative.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
One major problem that works against snow removal operations is people shoveling or blowing snow back onto the street after it has been plowed and salted. Township ordinance prohibits placing snow back onto the roadway once it has been plowed. Snow that has been deposited onto the street could refreeze and cause a hazardous condition for you or your neighbors. Please place the snow that you shovel off of your driveway and sidewalk onto the adjacent parkway and not back onto the street.
• When it starts to snow, park your vehicle off of the street in accordance with Ordinance § 265-1.
• Check that your mailbox and post are in good repair and that they are behind the curb, not leaning out over the street.
• If there is a fire hydrant in front of your home, please try to clear the snow around the hydrant. It is there for your protection and that of your neighbors.
• In accordance with ordinance § 265-2, please remove portable sports equipment from the street right of way. If they are left in an area where they can be damaged by our snow removal operations, we will not be responsible for any damage.
• Please be patient. This is particularly important during blizzards and extended storms when the Township has to stagger crew hours and or assist the Police Department, Fire Department or Rescue Squad with snow related accidents and emergencies.