WATCH: Detroit officials discuss upgrade to neighborhood street snow plowing plan

DETROIT - City of Detroit Department of Public Works officials announced changes to the city's snow removal policy on Tuesday. 

Officials said the changes will result in significant improvements to residential street clearing after major snowfalls.

Officials also discussed their strategy for clearing the city's growing network of protected bike lanes so they, too, can remain passable during winter months.

Watch highlights from the conference above. 

Here is the full release from the city: 

Starting this winter, the City of Detroit will nearly double the requirement placed on residential street snow plowing contractors to provide motorists a much wider path after heavy snowfalls, according to DPW Director Ron Brundidge. 

For the past several years, the city’s policy has been that once six inches or more of snow has accumulated, contractors must clear a 10-foot-wide path down each of the city’s 1884 miles of residential streets within 24 hours of being activated to make streets passable.  Under new guidelines announced today, contractors now will be required to make two passes to clear a total width of at least 16 feet within 24 hours.

The purpose of the side street plowing is to make sure residents can get out of their neighborhood and to major roads, which are salted and plowed from curb-to-curb to accommodate safe travel at higher posted speeds.

“As the City continues to improve financially, we are given the opportunity to provide a higher level of service to our neighborhoods,” said Brundidge.  “A 10-foot path down each street was acceptable when the policy was implemented almost 20 years ago, but now we are able to do more, so we will.”

The significantly higher level of service, however, won’t result in a significantly higher cost, Brundidge said. In the past, it has cost the City approximately $450,000 each time DPW activated its plowing contractors to clear residential streets. The new higher standards will be only about 20% more expensive per cycle, or approximately $534,000.

This winter, this will be the lineup of contractors and the Council District for which they will be responsible:

  • District One: Brilar Landscaping
  • District Two: Jordan Landscaping
  • District Three: Payne Landscaping
  • District Four: Payne Landscaping
  • District Five: Fontenot
  • District Six: Pavex​​​​​​​
  • District Seven: Jordan Landscaping 

Parking Restrictions, Snow Emergencies & Requirements of Citizens

The effectiveness of the city’s residential snow clearing efforts will be enhanced if residents remove their cars from the street after the city announces its plan to activate its contractors.

"We know that parking on residential streets can be difficult after significant snow falls,” said Brundidge. “We don’t plan to tow vehicles, especially since on-street parking is the only option in some areas, so we are asking for resident’s cooperation.  Once we activate the contractors, we are asking that residents find a way to park their car off the street if at all possible.”

Roadways that have been identified as snow emergency routes will have signs posted up to 48 hrs in advance to prohibit parking for the purpose of plowing. Residents will also receive notices for street clearing via the media, as well as the City of Detroit website and cable channels.

Residents and businesses are reminded that they are responsible for maintaining their sidewalks in a manner that makes it safe for pedestrians. Snow removal companies and property owners are prohibited from putting snow from their property onto public roadways.
 
Snow Clearing on Major Roads

Efforts to keep high priority major roads will begin once snow begins to cover the pavement.  If there is less than three inches of snow, roads will be treated with salt to clear them and these major roads will be cleared within 24 hours of snow stopping.  For accumulations of 3 inches or more, DPW crews use a combination of salting and plowing as needed until roads are clear and passable from curb-to-curb. 
 
Bike Lanes: City has new equipment and new policy for snow removal

This year, the city has purchased skid-steers and implemented a new policy for snow removal within the city’s 50 miles of protected bike lanes.

  • If there is three inches of snow or less, bike lanes will be salted as part of major street salting operations.
  • If there is between three and six inches of snow, Bike lanes will be plowed and salted as needed; snow from bike lanes will either be pushed to the curb, or hauled away, depending upon the volume of snowfall
  • If six inches of snow or more fall, bike lanes will be cleared within 48 to 72 hours after all vehicle travel lanes have been cleared of snow.  Snow from bike lanes will either be pushed to the curb, or hauled away, depending upon the volume of snowfall

"Bike lanes have become an increasingly popular form of mobility throughout the year for a lot of people,” said Brundidge. “Since this will be our first time clearing snow from protected bike lanes on a large scale, we look forward to receiving feedback from the public to help us improve our process as we go along.”
 
For more information:

Please visit please visit https://detroitmi.gov/departments/department-public-works/snow-ice-management for more information on the City’s Snow Removal policy.

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