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City of Ann Arbor, MI snow removal guidlines.

Date Added: June 22, 2011 09:31:14 PM
Author: Administrator
Category: Ann Arbor, MI

Guidlines found on the City of Ann Arbor, MI website

The City of Ann Arbor performs a variety of winter street maintenance procedures depending upon the type and amount of precipitation. Generally, the categories are described as "light snow" and "snow emergency." In addition, the city is dependent upon its citizens for providing sidewalk snow removal.

For up-to-date snow information, please link to the snow plowing status Web page and watch Cable Television Network (CTN) Channel 16.

Snow-related video programs

  • Snow removal guidelines for Ann Arbor’s residential and commercial properties video link (2:45 minutes)
  • Snow parking guidelines for Ann Arbor  video link (2:23 minutes)
  • Fire hydrant snow removal video link (2:30 minutes) 
  • Snow plow safety guidelines prepared for residents and drivers by the Michigan Municipal League and Rochester Hills, MI. Video link (10 minutes)

Street snow and ice control responses


Light Snow

When there is light snow or ice on road surfaces, approximately 98 miles of major streets are cleared with chemical de-icing agents.  There are eight salt routes within the city.  During periods when salting is required and extra personnel are available, more than one unit may be assigned to a route or trouble spots.  The street maintenance crews may use between 200 and 500 tons of salt in conjunction with plowing efforts to control a snowfall of up to four inches on major streets.  There are several considerations used to determine the best application of our chemical de-icing agents including total amount of snow or ice expected, time frame, temperatures, etc. The major streets include high volume streets, bridges, signalized intersections, and selected streets with curves or intersections with stop signs.  The response starts when it begins to snow and takes four to five hours to complete after the snow has stopped.


When the major streets are cleared of snow and ice, street maintenance crews move into residential areas with additional traction agents, such as sand, to provide better traction trouble spots.  It takes up to 200 tons of sand per storm in the residential areas when and where road conditions warrant sanding.


Heavy Snow  

When a snowfall of four inches or more occurs, street plowing begins, utilizing all salt/plow trucks and staff available in field operations, including the street maintenance, solid waste, utilities and parks areas in a coordinated effort to clear all streets in the city.  While the regular street maintenance crews focus on clearing the public major streets, the other crews begin plowing on residential streets, beginning with the routes next scheduled for refuse pick-up if containers are not already out. A variety of smaller trucks and equipment is used to clear dead ends and cul-de-sacs in the residential areas once the through streets have been cleared.  When the street maintenance crews have completed the major streets, crews and equipment are sent to sand in the residential areas. 


All winter maintenance equipment is staffed on a 24-hour per day schedule (12-hour shifts) until all city-maintained streets are cleared.  The city's goal is to clear all major and residential streets within 24 hours of an "average" four-inch snowstorm.  The Snow Desk is staffed to answer citizen questions during residential operations at 734.794.6367. 

All schools and privately owned areas provide their own de-icing and plowing. 

Citizens are encouraged to remove cars from curbside parking to allow for effective street plowing.

Snow Emergency 

During a snow emergency, special parking restrictions go into effect for designated streets in the city. 

City Code (Chapter 126, Section 10:143) empowers the city administrator to declare a "snow emergency" during a severe winter storm.  Where street parking is normally permitted, restrictions go into effect to allow curbside access to city crews to clear the street surfaces.  “Snow emergency” streets must be kept clear of parked cars at all times during the “snow emergency.”  If a vehicle is parked on a "snow emergency" street, it may be ticketed and towed.

Up-to-date information regarding current parking restrictions and progress can be found on CTN channel 16 and the city’s webpage at or by calling the Snow Desk at 734.794.6367.



Snow Plowing Practices

Each snow event requires that the operation varies in the amount of service performed and the personnel and equipment needed.  For example, if the potential for freezing conditions exists, a salting operation would be initiated to melt snow or ice accumulated in depth less than approximately one inch, or to prevent the bonding of packed snow to the pavement.  If the snow and ice accumulation continues, and if the de-icing of major streets ceases to be effective, then we change from a de-icing configuration to a snow plowing and snow removal operation.  A plowing operation would be initiated if a snow accumulation of approximately four inches or more existed.  Upon notification of an impending snowstorm, a decision is made to implement operations for clearing city streets. Back-to-back snow events less than four inches may cause the need for plowing, even though the events individually would not have warranted plowing.


During plowing operations it is an unavoidable consequence that snow will be moved into driveways as it is pushed by the plows.  At times, sidewalks that are close to the road edge may also receive deposits of snow from plowing.  During major events field operations maintains an online snow desk to assist property owners in tracking the progression of winter maintenance.  Citizens may call 734.794.6367 or consult the Web page for up-to-date information.


During an event, the emphasis is to keep the major streets opened and passable to traffic.  Once the snow or ice event ceases, then efforts continue with the plowing of major streets, sometimes followed immediately by the application of additional de-icing materials, and then will shift into a program of plowing residential streets.  

Winter maintenance of on-road bike lanes is performed in conjunction with operations on the adjacent road.


The goal is to have all streets clear within 24 hours of the end of an average four-inch snow or ice event.  Other follow-up activities include the treatment of intersections, hills, curves, and other critical areas on residential streets, both in response to historical problems and new problems as they are called in. 

Sidewalk Snow Removal Information
During the winter, the city provides residents with up to one, five-gallon bucket's worth of a sand and salt mixture, per visit to the maintenance yard, 721 N. Main, (734) 794-6362. Residents should bring their own shovel and bucket and self-load this material from the marked pile located next to the entrance gate. This material is intended for city residents only, and not for contractors, even if servicing sidewalks. The pure salt stored in the barn is restricted for city operations.

Please see the full report of the city's street snow and ice maintenance procedures (6-page pdf).


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