Snow Removal / Ice Control Policy

Preface
The following policy has been established to provide guidelines for the public and for plow operators to follow in order to ensure consistent practices for snow and ice removal during winter months. Our goal is to have all county highways passable within a reasonable amount of time after a snowfall has stopped. Our plowing priorities reflect a commitment to ensuring that key roads are kept open to serve critical facilities and to provide access between state highways and our communities.

Overview
Each year as the Minnesota winter approaches, the public’s concern about access to work, school, and business increases. The safety and convenience of the traveling public is a primary concern to the Wright County Highway Department. The goal of the Highway Department is to have all county highways passable as soon as reasonably possible after the snowfall has stopped. The Wright County Highway Department presently operates with one main crew.  

The traveling public is reminded to exercise caution and drive with care. Driving the legal speed limit may not be advisable, depending on conditions. The public is also requested not to crowd the plow. People who drive during the winter season will encounter snow and ice removal equipment. Flashing lights will generally be the first indication of the presence of snow removal equipment. You should reduce speed, pass with care, and keep a safe distance when encountering this equipment.

Snow Removal / Ice Control Policy
Dispatching of Snowplows
  • The County, to the best of its ability, will try to maintain the roadways during snow periods. Operations will be halted when it is too hazardous for our operators and for the public or if reasonable expectations are not being met.
  • For snow/ice activities, plows will generally be dispatched at 2 a.m., or as conditions dictate. Weekend plowing will be handled in a similar fashion.
Operations
  • Generally, plow operations will consist of three phases: making roads passable, widening and sanding, then general cleaning up.
  • The higher traffic volume roads will receive higher priority for snow and ice control operations.
  • Mailboxes and fences damaged during snow removal will be evaluated case by case. Only those mailboxes and fences that were properly located and installed, and which were damaged by actual contact with county equipment will be repaired at the County’s expense.
  • County removal of the windrow across driveways is not feasible and is the property owner’s responsibility. Residents are reminded that it is unlawful to plow or blow snow from driveways onto or across county highways.
  • Residents must remove parked vehicles from county highways to assist in snow removal.
  • Wright County personnel may assist stranded motorists by contacting law enforcement/emergency personnel. The Highway Department will not attempt to remove stuck vehicles unless directed by law enforcement personnel to eliminate a safety hazard.
Emergencies
  • The Sheriff’s Office should be contacted for plowing for emergency purposes. Plows will not be dispatched from regular routes or called for extra duty unless it is an actual emergency coordinated through the Sheriff’s Office. This provision is necessary to ensure that other emergency fire, medical, or law enforcement services are present and to improve plowing efficiency.
Operational Goals
  1. Make the roads passable. Clean one lane in each direction. This usually involves the placement of sand and salt.
  2. Widen the lanes to edge of shoulders and apply sand/salt mixture. The County will perform sanding operations at problem areas, including: curves, hills, intersections, and bridges. The County does not assure a completely bare road within a specified timeline due to numerous factors.
  3. Clean up. Remove ice and slush off roadway after salt and sun have been allowed to work. Remove snow from urban areas as scheduling/demands allow.
Operations will be halted when: (a) desired service levels are reached, (b) coverage time has elapsed, (c) conditions are too hazardous, or (d) reasonable accomplishments cannot be made.

Summary of the Policy
This policy was developed to provide general guidelines for both county personnel and the traveling public. This policy intends to cover the majority of situations normally encountered in winter storm events. When certain situations arise that are not part of the above policy, the County Engineer and his staff will deal with them on a case-by-case basis. Each decision to mobilize the snow plow crew is a judgment call based on the particular weather conditions. Past experience, combined with the resources available at the time, will also be factors in determining how closely this general policy will be followed.  

The Wright County Highway Department continues to review our operations and research new methods to find the most economical ways of providing snow / ice control activities for the taxpayers of Wright County.