Snow Plowing Q & A

 


Snow Plowing Q & A

 In Snow, and Ice, and Dead of Night...

Public Works Crews Ready for Winter Travel

Snow and ice control operations are a major priority of Public Works during the winter season. Winter storms impact all Village residents, businesses, institutions, as well as the motoring public. The health, safety, and welfare of the community is reliant upon the ability, skill, and dedication of the Public Works staff to promptly and effectively respond during these storm events to keep local roadways reasonably safe for travel. 

The Gurnee Public Works Department is responsible for snow and ice control operations on 243 lane miles of public roadways including 350 cul-de-sac and dead end streets. The Village is divided into 11 snow routes. Each route is assigned at least one large truck, which is responsible for the plowing and salting of the primary and secondary roads, and one small truck, responsible for the cul-de-sac and dead end streets. The goal of the Village's snow and ice control plan is to have all Village streets cleared in six hours, in the event of a typical four inch snowfall.

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding Public Works Department's snow and ice control operations. 

WHEN ARE STREETS PLOWED?

Plowing operations commence when the snow begins to accumulate and temperatures
indicate that no melting will occur. The Village has developed a priority system for plowing the roadway system. Mainline or “collector” streets are given first priority. Examples of these streets are Almond Road, First Street, Lawson Boulevard and Dada Drive. Local streets, which are the side streets that feed into the collectors, are given second priority. Dead ends and cul-de-sacs are given third priority, and may not be salted during an initial call out. The extent of the response to a snow event will be determined by the Public Works “Snow Boss” based on existing weather conditions, pavement temperatures, time of day, and forecast.  
 

WHY DO WE USE ROAD SALT?

Salting is necessary to accelerate snow melt and prevent melted snow from turning to ice. Once ice forms and becomes bonded to the pavement, it becomes very difficult to remove. Salting operations typically begin only when snow depth is less than one inch or when icing conditions exist. In 2008, the Public Works Department began to pre-wet salt with “Super Mix” (a liquid blend of salt brine, GEOMELT, and calcium chloride) during spreading operations. Pre-wetting the salt helps it cling to the road instead of bouncing off target or being swept away by traffic and provides the necessary moisture to dissolve the salt and release heat. Through this process, salt use is minimized, reducing costs and the amount of chlorides introduced into the environment.
 

WHY DO I SEE STRIPED LINES IN THE STREET BEFORE A SNOWSTORM?

In addition to pre-wetting, in 2008 the Village began to apply “Super-Mix” directly to the pavement in a process called anti-icing. Village crews dispense the liquid ice control agent with specialized sprayers mounted to plow trucks. Anti-icing may be done up to 72 hours in advance of a predicted snow or ice event. Once the material dries, it gives the pavement a striped appearance. Using these agents prevents ice from bonding to the pavement and reduces the amount of granular salt needed to clear roadways clear.

 

WHY IS SNOW PILED ON MY CORNER?

Snow that accumulates across the side road at an intersection must be pushed back to allow visibility and to clear the entire street radius so vehicles may turn off of or onto a roadway.  The snowplow operator will typically push snow onto the corner in the direction the truck is traveling. Depending on route design and the flow of traffic, some corners may get more snow than others. It is not practical to equally distribute snow on opposite corners.

If there is an accumulation of snow at a corner where there is a bus stop, children may need to move up the street in order to board the school bus. Please instruct children not to climb on the piles that have accumulated at the corners. If a snow pile on a particular corner becomes a sight clearance problem at an intersection, please call the Public Works Department and the snow will be removed as time permits.

 

WHEN ARE SIDEWALKS CLEARED?

The Public Works Department clears sidewalks within the Village Center area and along major routes such as Route 132 (Grand Ave.), Almond Road, and O'Plaine Road. Sidewalk clearing is typically completed within 72 hours after a snow event.

 

WHO CLEARS STATE AND COUNTY ROUTES?

The Village of Gurnee is bisected by a number of State of Illinois and Lake County arterial highways, but the Village does not maintain any roads that fall under the jurisdiction of another agency.  The roadways identified below, are NOT the responsibility of the Village of Gurnee.

Rt. 132 (Grand Ave.), Rt. 41 (Skokie Highway), Rt. 21 (Milwaukee Ave.), Rt. 120 (Belvidere Rd.), and Rt. 45 are plowed and maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). They can be reached at 847-244-0034.

Hunt Club Road, Washington Street, O’Plaine Road, Greenleaf Avenue (south of Washington), Dilley’s Road (north of Rt. 132), Gages Lake Road, Delany Road (north of Rt. 41), Sunset Ave and Stearns School Road are plowed and maintained by the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT). They can be reached at 847-377-7400.

 

WHY IS SNOW ALWAYS LEFT AT THE END OF MY DRIVEWAY?

While it’s frustrating to shovel your driveway only to have the plow come by and push snow back at the base, it is not feasible to plow the street so that your driveway remains completely “snow free.” Roadway design, the type of equipment that is utilized and the severity of snow events all factor into the size of the windrow left in the plows wake. This problem is magnified in cul-de-sacs because there is often limited parkway space for snow storage and centrifugal force causes the snow to move off of the plow toward the outside of the circle.

To minimize snow deposits at the end of your driveway; try not to create large piles of snow in the parkway on the upstream side of the driveway and never shovel or blow snow into the street.

 

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

The following tips, when followed, help ensure snow and ice control operations proceed smoothly:
 

  • When clearing sidewalks and driveways, do not shovel, blow or plow snow onto the roadway. Village ordinance prohibits placing snow onto the roadway once it has been cleared. Placing snow in the street requires additional staff time to clear the roadway system and you could be liable for damages or injuries resulting from this practice.
  • When it starts to snow, park your vehicle off of the street. This allows crews to clear the entire roadway and prevents the car from being plowed in, ticketed, or towed.
  • Please try to clear the snow around fire hydrants. This simple step could save precious time during an emergency.
  • Please remove portable basketball hoops, benches and decor from the street right-of-way. The Village is not responsible for damage to these items resulting from our snow removal operations.
  • Check that your mailbox and post are in good repair and that they are behind the curb, not leaning out over the street. For specifications on mailbox placement, please reference the Village's Mailbox Damage from Snow Plowing Policy (PDF).

 

If you have any questions regarding the Village’s snow and ice control operations, please call the Gurnee Public Works Department at (847) 599-6800. For snow-related emergencies after 3:30 p.m., please contact the Gurnee Police Department’s non-emergency number at (847) 599-7000.