Snow Plow FAQs
Q: How do you decide what streets are on the main salt routes?
A: Only main arterials, thoroughfares, main connector streets, Madison Metro bus routes, streets surrounding hospitals and schools and major hills and curves are salted.
Q: Why don't we plow and salt all the streets in the city, specifically secondary and residential streets?
A: The City of Madison limits the amount of salt that is applied to its streets as an effort to protect its groundwater and the quality of the lakes. Only main arterials, thoroughfares, main connector streets, Madison Metro bus routes, streets surrounding hospitals and schools and major hills and curves are salted. All other City of Madison streets receive sand to act as an abrasive on hills, intersections and curves.
Q: I only have on-street parking. Why do you always plow snow against my car?
A: Even though there are cars parked on the street, the plows must clear the traffic lanes of each of the streets. The snow is plowed to the right to where the curb is. Unfortunately for those people who park on the street, the snow is plowed up against the cars. That is why we ask that all cars try to find off street parking whenever there is snow accumulations of 3" or more and until streets are plowed.
Q: What happens if there are less than 3 inches of snow on the streets?
A: All salt routes are plowed and salted during every measurable snow event regardless of the accumulation. Residential streets that are not salted are only plowed when snow accumulations reach the 3" level and the snow event has ended or has just about concluded. If the residential streets are not plowed, sand is applied at hills, intersections and curves to act as an abrasive to assist in braking.
Q: What happens if there are 3 or more inches of snow on the roads?
A: When the snow accumulation reaches 3" or more, we evaluate and, if necessary, declare a "Snow Emergency" and convert from a spreading operation to an all out plowing operation. (During a "Snow Emergency" declaration, alternate side-parking restrictions go into effect in the Snow Emergency Zone and remain in effect throughout the remainder of the City. The Snow Emergency lasts for a minimum of 2 consecutive nights.)
Q: Will the snow plow ever completely clear my residential street down to bare pavement?
A: No! It is not the goal of the City's Snow and Ice Policy to have all streets clear down to bare pavement.
Q: How long will it take to finish plowing all the streets?
A: Once a general, full scale plowing of all 1708 lane miles of streets begins, it usually takes between 10-12 hours to complete the plowing effort.
Q: How do I report that the snow plows missed my street?
A: Submit a missed Snow Removal Report a Problem.
Q: What can I do about snow plows that block my driveway with snow?
A: This is an unfortunate side effect of plowing all streets in the City. All snow must be plowed to the curb and as a result driveways get blocked with the wet, heavy snow from the plow. It is the property owner's responsibility to clear the snow from the bottom of the driveway.
Q: What does the City of Madison do about snow & ice during the winter?
A: Here are the City of Madison Procedures for Snow & Ice Control.