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 Public Works Logo snow and ice management

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FAQ's

Definitions -

Passable:

The City of Columbia defines streets as passable, that although the road may still be snow packed, at least one travel lane is accessible for a front wheel drive vehicle at speeds and driving conditions below the normal posted speed limits. Your vehicles condition and your driving skills also determine your ability to navigate roads defined as passable.

Policy on Clearing Roads

City of Columbia Logo

For snow events with less than 4 inches of snow:

  • City crews will clear first and second priority streets to a passable condition, utilizing overtime if necessary.
  • Crews will clear residential streets to a passable condition during regular working hours only (M-F 8-5)

For snow events with more than 4 inches of snow:

  • City crews will clear first and second priority streets to a passable condition, utilizing overtime if necessary, and then;
  • Crews will clear residential streets to a passable condition utilizing overtime if necessary.
The City of Columbia defines streets as passable, that although the road may still be snow packed, at least one travel lane is accessible for a front wheel drive vehicle at speeds and driving conditions below the normal posted speed limits. Your vehicles condition and your driving skills also determine your ability to navigate roads defined as passable.

 

Snow Plowing Equipment -

Fleet thumbnail photoHow many snow plows does the City of Columbia operate?

Public Works uses 31 pieces of equipment for snow plowing operations and of those,
28 pieces of equipment are equipped with a plow and salt spreader. The loaders are used to load salt into spreaders.



  • 11 tandem axle trucks with plow and spreader
  • 9 single axle trucks with plow and spreader
  • 8 one ton pickups with plow and spreader
  • 1 motor grader
  • 2 loaders

Is there other equipment or personnel which can be used to clear roads?

Yes. When conditions warrant, personnel and equipment from other city departments and Public Works divisions may be utilized.

  • Water and Light
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Sewer Division of Public Works
  • City Managers office
  • Columbia Police Department

Does the City of Columbia use private contractors?

Yes, the City may use a private contractor if the conditions warrant. Normally, private contractors are used to clear downtown streets as those streets
must be cleared and the snow hauled away. The contractor used has a term and supply contract on file with the city of Columbia and has gone through
a competitive bid process.


Snow Routes -

Snow Route signDoes the City designate snow routes?

Yes, the city of Columbia has designated snow routes. You can view maps of 1st and 2nd priority routes by clicking here - 2013 snow route map

Is parking allowed on snow routes?

Parking is allowed on snow routes until snow accumulates to 2 inches or greater. When that occurs, vehicle must be moved off of the snow routes (into driveways, non priority streets, etc). Once the snowfall has accumulated two inches or greater and vehicles are moved, they should remain off of priority routes until the city sends notifications that parking may resume on snow routes.

Does the City notify people when the snow is greater than 2 inches and snow routes will be enforced?

Yes, you may sign up to receive notifications via either email or SMS messages via cell phones. We use NIXLE and you can sigh up for the free service at - NIXLE.com

Does the City notify people when they can again park on snow routes after an event?

Yes, an alert, press release, and social media posting, will be sent when parking is again allowed on snow routes after a snow event.

Who is responsible for measuring the snow depth and where is it measured?

Our plan is to error on the side of caution. Rest assured we are not out in the middle of Broadway with a ruler waiting to watch the snow accumulate to 2.1 inches.
We'll use reasonable judgments and measurements and will provide plenty of advanced notification when the accumulation is to the point we need you to move your vehicle.
Our goal is to make clearing of roads better, not worse for our customers.

What happens if I don't move my vehicle?

City ordinance 14-304 designates snow routes as no parking areas when snow accumulates 2 inches or more. The penalty is a citation and possibly the vehicle could be towed at the owners expense.

Why does the city designate snow priority routes and what criteria is used?

Snow routes are designated to give priority snow removal to main routes which are used as primary response routes for emergency vehicles and roads which lead to subdivisions, schools, employment and retail centers. There are some roads which are also designated as priority routes due to their topography and proximity to main roads.

I normally park on the road during snow events because my driveway is very steep. If I park on a designated snow priority route and the snow is greater than two inches, will I be issued a citation and towed?

Possibly. We understand and empathize with our customers who's driveways have a steep incline or decline. For the public good, clearing priority routes must take precedence. We encourage our customers to find side streets or other parking options.

What if I don't have a driveway and have always parked on the street? Will I be ticketed and towed if the snow accumulates over two inches?

Possibly. We understand and empathize with our customers who do not have driveway or parking lot access. For the public good, clearing priority routes must take precedence. We encourage our customers to find side streets or other parking options.

I moved my car off of the priority route and the plows have cleared the street. Can I park on the street again?

Yes! Columbia Public Works will issue an alert that priority snow routes have been plowed and treated and that it is okay to again park on the priority routes. Remember, should another snow fall accumulate to an additional two inches, vehicles must again be moved off of the priority routes. Thanks for moving your vehicle and helping us clear Columbia Streets!

My street is not a priority route. Do I need to move my vehicle?

Technically no. However, the more vehicles which are moved off of streets, the more efficiently we can clear streets (read quicker and better). We always encourage our customers to move vehicles off of streets when there is snow fall until the plows have come through.


Sidewalks -

Sidewalk snow shovelingWho is responsible for the sidewalk in front of my home?

The property owner is responsible for clearing snow and ice from the sidewalk. City ordinance 24-12 governs snow removal from sidewalks. Keeping your sidewalks clear of snow and ice is the neighborly thing to do. At some point in the day, we're all pedestrians. Neighbors out walking their pets, exercising, or enjoying a walk depend on sidewalks which are clear and free from fall hazards.

I am elderly or have a condition which makes it difficult or impossible to shovel my sidewalk. Is there agencies who can assist me?

Yes. There are agencies such as Boone County Council on Aging that can assist the elderly with snow shoveling. For more information, contact the Boone County Council on Aging at 573-443-1111.

I rent. Am I responsible or is the landlord responsible for cleaning the sidewalk?

It depends. We encourage you to check with your landlord. Some rental contracts require the tenant to perform certain property maintenance items such mowing the grass, clearing snow, etc. Sometimes the issue of snow removal is vague between landlords and tenants. If your not sure, contact your landlord and determine who is responsible for snow removal on sidewalks.

I just cleared my sidewalks and now the plow truck has pushed snow back onto the sidewalk. Is it now the city's responsibility to clear the sidewalk of snow they pushed onto it. Plus I am mad now.

We understand how you feel and wish we had the ability to just melt the snow rather than plow it. Sometimes, depending on how close the sidewalk is to the road, how much snow we have received, and a number of other factors, plows will push snow onto sidewalks. Please know were are very sorry when that happens and it's not done intentionally. Even though it may happen, the property owner is still responsible for clearing the sidewalk.

You're making me clear my sidewalk, does the city clear all of their sidewalks at city buildings, at parks, trails and along roads, etc?

The City of Columbia makes every effort to clear sidewalks around city buildings, parks, trails, and along city properties. To view a map of sidewalks and trails currently cleared by Columbia Public Works and Parks & Recreation - click here. This year, a pilot project to clear additional priority sidewalks is being tested by Public Works and Parks & Recreation - click here for pilot project map of sidewalks affected.


Driveways -

I just spent two hours clearing my driveway and am just now warming up inside. I watched out of my window as the plow truck came by and pushed snow, and lots of it, back in front of my drive! Who's going to clear that?

This may not help, but we do apologize when that happens. We do what we can to prevent it, however there are only so many places to push the snow; especially when we get a significant snowfall. With that said, here are a few tips that will help minimize the amount of snow pushed into driveways:

  • As your looking at the street from your driveway, shovel the snow to the right side as much as possible. This prevents the plows from pushing large mounds of snow back into or in front of the driveway.
  • If possible, wait until the plow has gone by before shoveling the last 4-5 feet of the driveway
  • When shoveling the last 4-5 feet of the driveway, try to place the shoveled snow away from the street.


Cul-de-sac's (Dead End Streets)

Cul de sacs and snow removal - graphicI live on a dead end street and the plow truck just pushes snow in front of my driveway and in front of my mailbox. Why?

Seems like we've been apologizing a lot, but we really do mean it. Dead ends, or cul-de-sac's, present of of the biggest challenges to our plow drivers. In the bulb of the cul-de-sac, there are very, very few places to push the snow without blocking driveways, mailboxes, fire hydrants, and storm drain inlets. We do the very best we can and appreciate your understanding.

 

Why does it seem like dead end streets are the last streets you guys touch?

As we were mentioning above, cul-de-sacs present a huge challenge for plow operators. It often can take 15-20 minutes per cul-de-sac to clear the snow. And there are over 1,100 cul-de-sacs in Columbia. We try to get to everyone as quickly as possible. Sometimes, we may be using special equipment, such as a front end loader, to clear the snow from cul-de-sacs. Plows can't maneuver as well as front end loaders and can't place the snow as accurately either. We'll be there with the right equipment as soon as possible - thanks for your patience.

 

Trash and Recycling Collection

Will my trash and recycling be picked up during a snow event?

Yes, unless the event is severe enough that all non-essential operations are suspended by the City. If trash and recycling collection is delayed, we will send out the appropriate notifications. We do ask that you ensure your trash and recycling materials are placed as close to the street as possible and not buried or hidden beneath or behind snow banks. And, if it's forecast to snow overnight, please do not set materials out the night before to prevent them from getting covered and missed by our crews.


Electric Meter Base

 

Power - Electricity

My power is out. Who do I call?

 

Two utilities provide electric service to customers inside and outside of Columbia. For outages and service issues, you should contact the provider to whom you pay your bill.

  • Columbia Water and Light
    • Outage number - (573) 875-2555
    • Electric outage map: view reported outages on Columbia Water & Lights service area
  • Boone Electric Coop
    • Outage number: (573) 449-4181
    • Electric outage map: view reported outages in Boone Electric service area