Snow Removal and Ice Control - Standard Operating Procedure
Policy: It is the goal and intent of the Town of Amherst to provide timely, efficient, and cost-effective winter maintenance, snow removal, and ice control on the roadways of the municipality for the safety and benefit of the town’s residents and the general motoring public.
Procedure: The objective stated above will be achieved by implementation and execution of the procedures and tasks outlined in the Town of Amherst Winter Operations Snow Removal and Ice Control Procedures. Due to the many variables that are inherent in New England weather, each storm and / or weather event may require slightly different effort and / or emphasis on any number of maintenance tasks, which together, determine the overall winter maintenance, snow removal or ice control strategy.
Level of Service: It is not possible to maintain a snow and ice free black road or sidewalk during a storm. It is the intention of the Town of Amherst to provide practical, safe access to homes, business and municipal facilities during winter storms within the confines of budget limitations..
It is our policy to start snow removal operations upon accumulation of two inches of snowfall. The Public Works Director or his designee may, at his discretion, based on weather information reports, elect to not remove snow until a greater or lesser accumulation.
Pre-treatment and ice control may be addressed prior to the actual snow beginning, during the actual storms as seen effective, and after the storm. It should be noted that salt has a much slower effect on melting snow and ice at temperatures below 25 degrees, and may not be applied without additives until it is warmer.
Sidewalk snow clearance will be conducted as soon as possible during winter storms. Personnel availability and the needs to maintain roadways will take priority.
Command: Direction of all winter maintenance activities for the Town of Amherst is vested with the Director of Public Works, Assistant Director, the Lead Foreman, or their designee.
Execution: The policy outlined above is intended to serve as the normal operation procedures for winter maintenance, snow removal and / or ice control for the Town of Amherst. One or more of the following, which may delay or prevent the implementation of this policy, may affect all or any part of this policy.
- Equipment Breakdown
- Snow accumulation in Excess of 1” per hour
- Traffic Congestion
- Personnel illness
- Extensive long drawn out storm, with an exhausted crew
Adoption: The Town of Amherst has adopted the Winter Operations Snow Removal and Ice Control Policy effective December 3, 2001 with subsequent approved revisions. All residents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the content as it describes the condition that one might expect to encounter before, during, and following a winter storm event.
Winter Operations - Snow Removal and Ice Control Procedures (Includes Highway, Sidewalks, Landfill and Parking Areas)
Equipment: The Highway Department utilizes all the assets needed to address snow emergencies. A list of the current rolling stock assets is included in the appendix.
Routes: Currently, the town is divided into seventeen plow routes and thirteen treatment routes. The town owns six 6 wheel dump trucks with wings, two 10 wheel dump trucks with wings and four 1 ton dump trucks all have mounted hydraulic powered sanders and front plows. Several town pickups, specialty equipment, and hired equipment complete the snow and ice fighting force.
Manpower: The town has nine full-time and one employee shared with Recreatation assigned to its winter maintenance operations. In addition, onee recreation employee and private contractors are used to plow town roads and parking lots.
Materials: The department, in an average winter, uses approximately two thousand ton of salt and three thousand cubic yards of sand each season. The sand is used as an abrasive for dirt roads and is applied to improve the public’s motor vehicle traction. On paved roads sand is mixed with salt and tightly spread as close to the middle of the road as traffic allows creating liquid super salt brine. The Department employs salt and calcium chloride as de-icing and anti-icing agents. In the “no salt zones” a liquid deicing agent or sand is directly sprayed onto the road. Our sand supply is bid each year and is trucked to our storage area following bid requirements throughout the winter season. Rock salt is purchased from a supplier as needed and our storage facility is capable of storing approximately three hundred tons of salt and three hundred tons of salt/sand mix. All salt is stored inside a building under cover.
Unless weather conditions require a different approach, winter maintenance routes are usually treated with a mixture of sand and salt. The mixture is maintained at minimum of one part salt to one part sand. The mixture is applied as close to the center of the roadway where traffic can work the mix traveling either way. The mixture, in conjunction with traffic action, creates a watery brine melting snow and / or ice, and resisting snow and ice packing on the roadway. The road crown further assists with the spreading of the mixture brine. Sand / salt is only effective to approximately 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Five municipal spreaders are capable of adding calcium chloride to the brine mixture increasing the effectiveness below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Materials sometimes know as Ice-Be-Gone, Ice Ban, or Magic Salt is applied in a liquid state directly to “non salt” designated road surfaces at a rate of sixteen gallons per lane mile. The product has the appearance of motor oil and smells like a distillers brew. The product is designed for pretreatment, does not melt snow or ice but does create a barrier to minimize ice bonding to road surfaces.
Communications: The Public Works rolling stock is equipped with two-way radios capable of transmitting and receiving on frequency 159.24750. Each employee is assigned a unique call number. Most private contractors working for the town, communicate with DPW using cell phones. A list of all call numbers is included as an appendix to this policy. The Amherst Department of Public Works maintains communications both from our garage and Amherst Communications during winter emergencies.
Schools: The Department of Public Works is responsible for the clearing of snow and winter treatment of the Middle and both Elementary schools access roads and parking lots. On days when school is in session, winter maintenance efforts must be timed to coincide with bus routing and delivery.
The school superintendent or designated official representative along with the school bus company's representative confers with the Amherst Lead Foreman to discuss the condition of the municipality’s roads in order to determine the safety of students using buses, this is done prior to 5:30AM. The school representative shall make the decision to cancel or delay school opening for the day.
Parking: The town has enacted a winter parking ban effective from November 1st to April 1st of each year. This ban prohibits parking in or on the town’s roads or right of way. The Town has the right to tow at the owner expense. The purpose of the winter parking ban is to allow winter maintenance crews unobstructed snow removal and ice control routes, as much as possible, to maintain the maximum effectiveness of their efforts.
Plow Route Priorities: With a total of 130 miles of town roads from which to remove snow and ice and seventeen pieces of equipment to handle this responsibility, the Highway Department has to assign priorities for winter maintenance route activity in order to maximize the effectiveness of their efforts for the motoring public.
School bus routes will be given the first priority during school days. Each plow route will ensure that the best possible snow clearance will be completed within one half hour of bus route time.
Public parking areas at the Town Office, Town Hall, Library, Police Station, and both Fire Stations will be maintained by plowing during the winter storm. The application of slip resistant materials will be applied after the storm as determined by the Lead Foreman or his designee.
Transfer Station / Recycling Center: Transfer Station personnel may be required to assist with the town’s general winter maintenance operations. If the facility is open during the snow or ice storm, personnel will plow this area prior to opening for public use. Public areas shall be kept as clear as possible to provide as safe access as is reasonably possible. Sand and other slip resistant materials shall be used in public areas. It often will not be possible to maintain clear ground, but a reasonable effort will be made during storms.
Roads Not Receiving Winter Maintenance: The town of Amherst does not maintain a number of roadways as part of its ongoing winter maintenance activities. The areas not maintained by the Town includes:
- Town roads classified as Class VI roads.
- Private roads
Damage to Private Property: It should be noted that the municipality isn’t held responsible for damage to private property that is located within the public right-of-way. The right of way (ROW) is often 50’ wide, and is often confused by property owners as their own property. In most cases, the ROW extends ten to twenty feet on either side of the paved or gravel road. Homeowners cultivate extensions of their lawns, place mailboxes, erect fences or stonewalls in these areas, which improves the appearance of the street greatly, but is obstructive to a good maintenance from being conducted on the roadway.
Homeowners should not put bark mulch, crushed rock, stone walls, fences (visible and invisible), irrigation systems, trees or lawns in the town right-of-way. The town is not liable for damage that may occur to property in its right-of-way. Many items interfere with heavy equipment and become a hazard for vehicles and pedestrians. They often cause drainage failures, and thereby road deterioration.
Location of Mailboxes: Mail and newspaper boxes are allowed, at the owner’s risk within the right-of-way for the purposes of convenience. United States Postal bulletin 22102 states; “The Postal Service suggests using a semi-arch or extended arm support which allows snowplows to sweep near or under mailboxes without damaging supports and provides easy access to the mailboxes by carriers and customers”. Please refer to the town’s recommended policy on mailbox placement found elsewhere in this webpage.
The following suggestions are for reducing the possibility of damage and liability:
- Mailboxes should whenever possible, be installed at least three feet from the edge of pavement.
- Installation should be sufficiently sturdy to withstand the weight of heavy snow resulting from plowing operations.
Parking Ban: Pursuant to the provisions of RSA 41:11 and RSA 47:17, the following regulation has been adopted by the Town of Amherst. It shall be unlawful for any vehicle to be parked upon or adjacent to the street of the Town of Amherst so as to obstruct snow plowing and or snow removal operations between 1 November and the following 1 April. Any vehicle so obstructing such snow plowing and / or snow removal operations may be towed by the Town of Amherst without notice to the owner at the expense of the vehicle owner, unless exempt by the Amherst Highway Department.
Penalty: a fine not to exceed $20.00 for each violation. Also, if any person shall place or cause to be placed, any snow or ice upon the surface of a traveled portion of any class 4 or 5 highway in the Town of Amherst, he or she shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $20.00.
Post Storm Operations: As determined by the Director of Public Works or his designee, the snow banks resulting from previous accumulations shall be pushed back, or shelved, using the plow and wings of dump trucks, grader, or other suitable equipment to make space for future snow storms.
Sidewalk Snow Removal: Sidewalk snow plowing will be done as soon as possible within the limitations of manpower, equipment, and storm size. If there are insufficient personnel available to conduct sidewalk snow removal operations, as well as street and road clearance, the streets and roads shall take priority. The sidewalks will be treated with salt or sand as quickly as possible after the storm if required.
- Snow blow the sidewalk from the Clark School to Wilkins School and from the Village Store to the Library. Also the sidewalk from Carriage Lane to Main Street in front of the Library.
- Front of Town Hall.
- Clean off walkway up to the front door at the Library.
- Church Street sidewalk.
- Main Street sidewalk from Library to Amherst Street.
- Middle Street sidewalk.
- Boston Post Road sidewalk northeast side of road.
- Snow blow the sidewalk through the park.