Winter Operations

Winter Operations

City of Dover's Winter Operations Procedures. 

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Policy: Snow Removal and Ice Control

Governing Laws: RSA 231:92-a; RSA 507-B:2-b; Dover Code Chapters 141-11; 141-12; 141-16; 141-48.

Approval Date: Dec. 9, 2020

OBJECTIVE: It is the goal and intent of the City of Dover to provide timely, efficient and cost-effective winter maintenance, snow removal and ice control on public roadways of the municipality for the safety and benefit of the City’s residents and the general traveling public.

PROCEDURE: The objective stated above will be achieved by implementing and executing the procedures and tasks outlined in the City of Dover Winter Operations Snow Removal and Ice Control Procedures. Due to the many variables inherent in New England weather, each storm and/or weather event may require 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 road or sidewalk during a storm. It is the intention of the City of Dover to provide practical, safe access along city streets and municipal facilities during winter storms. The City’s Community Services Department shall strive to achieve bare pavement on all priority streets in Dover within the 24 hours following snowstorms with two inches or more of accumulation. All operational decisions regarding pre-salting, scheduling equipment, operators and private contractors shall be based upon this goal. The Department shall conduct removal operations throughout snowstorms to keep non-priority streets open for vehicles.

It is the City’s policy to begin snow removal operations upon an accumulation of two inches of snowfall. Community Services’ Public Works Supervisor may, at his or her discretion based upon weather reports, elect not to remove snow until greater or lesser accumulations. During nights and weekends, the Dover Police Department shall notify the Public Works Supervisor of road conditions that warrant mobilization of snow removal or ice control activity.

Pre-treatment and ice control may be utilized preceding a storm, during a storm, and proceeding a storm. Salt has a much slower effect on melting snow and ice at temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and may not be applied until it is warmer. Chemical pre-wetting may be used to enhance deicing operations when conditions dictate.

Sidewalk snow removal will be conducted as practical during winter storms. Personnel availability and the need to maintain safe roadways will take priority.

COMMAND: Direction of all winter maintenance activities for the City of Dover is vested with the Community Services Director or his or her designee.

EXECUTION: The policy outlined above is intended to serve as the standard operating procedures for winter maintenance, snow removal and/or ice control for the City of Dover. One or more of the following may delay or prevent the implementation of this policy:

  • Equipment breakdown
  • Snow accumulation above of 1-inch per hour
  • Freezing rain or other icing conditions
  • Extreme low temperatures
  • Traffic congestion
  • Emergencies
  • Personnel illness
  • Loss of personnel due to a pandemic or mandated quarantine, or other similar circumstances outside of the City of Dover's control. 

EQUIPMENT: Community Services' Highway Division utilizes all the department's assets as needed to address snow emergencies. A list of the current snow removal equipment used in winter operations is included in this policy's Appendix. Snow equipment shall be operational annually by Nov. 1. Equipment with multiple uses may not be converted for snow operations until needed or when the secondary use operations cease for the season. Each city vehicle is equipment with a Global Positioning System (GPS) sensor to allow for position monitoring of the equipment.

ROUTES: Currently, the City is divided into 18 major plow routes. Snow on these plow routes is cleared by heavy equipment such as 6-wheel trucks, 10-wheel trucks, loaders and a road grader. Additionally, there are six four-wheel-drive (4x4) trucks with four-way plows used to maintain small streets, utility facilities, emergency service facilities, municipal parking areas, and to assist in support of trucks assigned specific routes. Each street on all plow routes is designated as either a priority street or a non-priority street. Streets that receive treatment are shown on the Winter Operations Treatment street map. Outside contractor assistance may be utilized to help augment City staff and equipment. 

The City uses loaders and a large snowblower in the downtown area to load snow for removal to snowfields as it may restrict parking or line of sight distances at intersections. The City sidewalks are broken into three separate zones: Southside, Downtown, and Northside. The City has two sidewalk plows and three skid steer loaders used for winter maintenance on designated sidewalks. There are prioritized areas for pedestrian access, with emphasis on school zones. Remaining sidewalks are addressed as budget, staffing, and equipment allow.

WORKFORCE: The City of Dover has 33 full-time personnel assigned to its winter maintenance operations. The Highway Division shall have primary responsibility for removing snow and ice from city streets and sidewalks. Staff from the Facilities, Grounds and Cemeteries Division, the Wastewater Treatment Plant Division, and contracted equipment and drivers are utilized during snow removal and ice control operations. All private contractors used during snowstorms shall report to the Supervisor on duty during their operations and provide progress reports on their routes' status. At least one member of the Fleet Services Division is on duty during winter operations to repair equipment. A call-in list of personnel and contractors with phone numbers is maintained and updated by the City.

MATERIALS: The Highway Division uses approximately 4,000 tons of rock salt and 1,800 cubic yards of sand each season. The sand is used as an abrasive and is applied to the road to improve vehicle traction. The Department employs salt as a de-icing and anti-icing agent. Rock salt is purchased from a supplier as needed. The Highway Division stockpiles a limited quantity of approximately 400 tons.

Unless weather conditions require a different approach, winter maintenance treatment routes are typically treated in one of four ways: 

  • Dirt roads, or sensitive environmental areas (e.g., public water aquifers), may only be treated with sand.
  • Some residential streets, areas with hills, and certain intersections will typically get treated with a mixture of sand and salt. The mixture is maintained at a minimum of one part salt to five parts sand. The salt helps prevent the sand from freezing or “clumping” and provides some de-icing for the roadways.
  • Arterial streets and collector roads are typically treated with sodium chloride, commonly known as rock salt. The intended application rate equates to about 150 pounds of material per lane mile of roadway. Salt is applied to the center of the roadway where traffic can work the material traveling either way. The salt material, 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. The salt brine is only effective to approximately 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The City continues to experiment with “pre-wetting” of the dispensed rock salt to provide more even distribution of the rock salt and expedite the conversion process to a liquid brine.
  • Depending on weather conditions preceding a storm event, the City may elect to treat high-traffic arterial streets and collector roads with a liquid brine solution. The City continues to experiment with expanding the use of brine. The objective is to apply a 23% salinity solution (rock salt) at a rate of 90 gallons per lane mile of roadway.

COMMUNICATIONS: All Community Services Department snow removal equipment have installed high band, dual-frequency radios which transmit at a frequency of 452.0125 and receive at a frequency of 457.0125. Each plow and equipment operator is assigned a unique call number. A list of all call numbers is displayed in each piece of equipment or truck. Radios are also maintained at the Fleet Services Division garage, facilitating the operator’s ability to communicate with the City of Dover Police and Fire departments.

WEATHER MONITORING: The Highway Division maintains computer access to a weather advisory service that provides weather forecasts and provides weather advisories via email to supervisory staff. 

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS: The Highway Division coordinates with the City of Dover's Office of Media Services to provide information to local radio stations on road conditions during storms, and educational, promotional segments encouraging public cooperation during snowstorms. The City maintains a subscription-based service (text or email) to send direct alerts or notifications to residents, property owners and/or businesses. (Sign-up for winter parking ban notices and see current parking ban status here.) The Highway Division also maintains the phone number 516-PARK (7275) with a pre-recorded message of the current winter parking ban status. 

SCHOOLS: The Highway Division administers the clearing of snow and winter treatment operations of access roads to the City of Dover's public schools. The School Department employs private contractors for clearing of its parking lots. On days when school is in session, winter maintenance efforts must be timed to coincide with bus routes and school operations. The School Department is responsible for snow and ice removal on public school sidewalks and other  public school facilities. 

The Public Works Supervisor discusses with the School Department Superintendent or designated representative before 5:30 a.m. during winter storms to provide current road condition information and available weather forecast information to determine the safety of students traveling to school either by school buses or by private vehicles. The School Department Superintendent shall decide whether to cancel the school day or delay school opening time.

PARKING: The Community Services Director shall have the authority, after consultation with the Chief of Police, to declare a parking ban affecting some or all City streets, adjacent parking areas, sidewalks and parking lots to facilitate municipal snow removal operations. The Community Services Director may declare parking bans in response to a storm, or as needed after a storm, to allow winter maintenance crews unobstructed snow removal and ice control routes. When a ban is declared, all vehicles must be off all public streets, sidewalks, or rights of way (ROW) by the time the ban goes into effect. If vehicles are not removed, they may be ticketed and/or towed. A parking ban is typically declared by 3 p.m. and begins at a designated time later that evening. When a ban is declared, parking is prohibited on City streets, sidewalks and adjacent parking areas, such as angles parking spaces. Vehicles found in violation of the parking ban may be ticketed and towed at the vehicle owner's expense. 

In addition to the "as-needed" winter parking bans, there are several streets with seasonal winter parking restrictions in place from Dec. 1 to April 1. These streets do not allow parking at any time, day or night, between Dec. 1 and April 1. Seasonal restrictions are required due to the limited width of the roads and concerns about plows and emergency vehicles being able to pass. An updated list of no parking restrictions can be found at www.dover.nh.gov/government/city-operations/police/parking-bureau/winterparking-restrictions/, and in Chapter 141-48 of the City of Dover Codes. 

PLOW ROUTE PRIORITIES: The Community Services Department utilizes 36 pieces of equipment for snow removal and ice control for the City of Dover's 137 miles of public roads. 

  • Arterial and collector streets are prioritized over residential streets.
  • The downtown Business District will be maintained as possible during business hours, with the main snow removal effort to be done during declared Parking Bans or as part of Post Storm Operations. Safety is a significant concern due to the many vehicles and pedestrians in the area.
  • Public parking areas will be maintained by plowing during the winter storm. The application of slip-resistant materials will be applied after the storm as determined to be needed by the Public Works/Utilities Superintendent.
  • Fire Hydrants: Dover Fire and Rescue locates and shovels fire hydrants to maintain access in case of a fire. The Community Services Department will provide snow removal around fire hydrants when streets and sidewalks are completed.
  • Each specific plow route is depicted on a route map and is included in the Appendix.

ROADS AND SIDEWALKS NOT RECEIVING WINTER MAINTENANCE: The City of Dover does not maintain several roadways and sidewalks as part of its ongoing winter maintenance activities. The areas not maintained by the City include:

  • Public roads classified as Class VI roads
  • Private roads and private sidewalks
  • Unaccepted City streets
  • Highways and roads maintained by New Hampshire Department of Transportation
  • City parks, except the upper parking lot at Bellamy Park as time allows
  • Sidewalks that are the responsibility of the School Department.

DAMAGE TO PRIVATE PROPERTY: It should be noted that the municipality isn’t held responsible for damage to private property located within the public right of way (ROW). (See RSA 231:92 and RSA 231:92-a) The ROW is typically 50 feet wide and is often confused by property owners as their property. In most cases, the ROW extends 10 to 20 feet of either side of the paved or gravel road. Homeowners often cultivate extensions of their lawns, place mailboxes, erect fences or stone walls in these ROWs. While this may improve the street's appearance, it can be obstructive to roadway maintenance.

In the event of personal property damage, the City of Dover will only be responsible for repairing or replacing damaged property in actual contact with the snow removal equipment on private property and not within the public right-of-way.

SNOW REMOVAL FROM PRIVATE PROPERTY: City of Dover ordinances prohibit moving snow from private property onto public roadways. Dover City Code Chapter 141-11 states: No person shall deposit, or cause to be deposited, any ice or snow which has been removed from private property, in or upon any street, sidewalk, or public place in the City, or deposit or cause to be deposited any ice or snow on private property in such a manner as to obstruct the normal and reasonable flow of traffic in or upon any street, sidewalk or public place within the City.

POST STORM OPERATIONS: As determined by the Public Works Supervisor, the snowbanks resulting from the previous accumulations shall be pushed back or shelved, using the plow and wing of the grader or other suitable equipment to make space for future snowstorms. A Snow Removal Parking Ban may be declared to aid in snow removal or pushing snow back from roadways. 

Snow Removal: During the storm's initial stages, only the roadways through the Business District may be plowed. As parking areas along the businesses are free of parked vehicles, snow removal equipment may swing wider through the street to push back large amounts of accumulated snow. 

  • The downtown Business District and other designated areas typically require snow removal. The snow removal and snowblower routes in the Appendix identify areas of routine snow removal operations.
  • When a Snow Removal Parking Ban is declared, snow removal of parking areas in the Business District will typically begin at 10 p.m. and shall cease operations at 7 a.m.
  • Snow removal to open parking in the Business District is accomplished using a large snow blower and loaders. Additional snow removal may be undertaken as necessary on bridges, narrow streets, the “Miracle Mile,” and other areas as conditions dictate.

BRIDGES: During an event with precipitation and cold temperatures (32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower), bridges become icy or snow-packed because of the airflow above and below the bridge deck. The Highway Division maintains a list of bridges, and ensures the bridges are  checked and treated as necessary during and after these events. Snow removal on bridges occurs before the amount of snow begins to impede the roadway causing narrow passage. Removal is done by snowblower, plow or loader.

CHURCHES: Snow removal in the immediate proximity to churches occurs to allow overflow parking in the street without causing congestion. Sidewalks are also cleared to enable pedestrian access. All denominations are assisted.

Snow removal usually occurs in relation to downtown Business District snow removal operations.

SIDEWALK SNOW REMOVAL: 

  • Sidewalk snow removal may not begin until all other snow removal operations are staffed and in progress. If there is insufficient personnel available for sidewalk snow removal and street and road snow removal, streets and roads will be prioritized.
  • Municipal facilities, School Zones (public streets near schools, but not on school property), and the Business District are the sidewalks with the highest priority for snow removal and ice control.
  • The sidewalks outside the identified priority areas shall be cleared as budget, staffing, weather conditions and equipment availability may allow during and after the storm.
  • Prioritized sidewalks will be treated with sand as quickly as possible after the storm.
  • Prioritized sidewalks to be cleared of snow and sanded are shown on the sidewalk plow route maps included in the Appendix of this document.

If pedestrians or vehicles cause obstructions to the sidewalk snow removal operations, the City's winter maintenance operators are encouraged to request their cooperation. Otherwise, the operator is expected to call their supervisor for assistance. The operator shall avoid confrontation at all possible costs. Any vehicles blocking public access, parked in violation of City of Dover parking ordinances, or of a posted parking ban may be ticketed and/or towed.

ADOPTION: The Dover City Council adopted the Winter Operations Snow Removal and Ice Control Procedures policy by resolution on and effective Dec. 9, 2020. All residents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with its contents as it describes the conditions that one might expect to encounter before, during and following a winter storm event.

Residents are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with the City of Dover's Winter Parking Restrictions and "as-needed" winter parking bans. Sign-up for winter parking ban notices and see current parking ban status here. The current parking ban status can also be obtained by calling 516-PARK (7275), which is updated with a pre-recorded message.

Appendix