How Streets are Plowed in Ann Arbor
The City of Ann Arbor’s winter road maintenance objective is to provide surfaces that are safe to use at reasonable speeds. This does not always mean surfaces are cleared to bare pavement.
Trunk line: defined by state and federal law; takes priority for snow control/removal; serves vital role in transportation and connect to highways.
Major road: critical for travel within the city limits. May or may not connect to highways.
Residential/local street: most homes, apartments and businesses reside along residential/local streets.
- The city services 98 miles of major roads and 197 miles of
- Trunk lines, major roads and the next day’s solid waste routes are plowed first.
- The goal is to treat/plow all streets within 24 hours of an
“average” 4-inch snowstorm.
- The city uses salt to treat trunk lines and major roads and a 95/5 percent sand/salt mixture for residential streets and other locations.
- Plows often deposit snow or ice on sidewalks during normal
plowing. Unfortunately there is no economical technology that allows the city
to avoid this.
- The city does not clear mail boxes of snow or ice.
- Schools and privately owned lots and roads are not
maintained by city crews.
When do we plow?
A light snow, under 4", or ice event is addressed with chemical de-icing agents. Treatment begins with trunk lines, major roads, bridges, signalized intersections and selected streets with curves or intersections with stop signs. The response starts with the first snowfall and takes four to five hours to complete after snow has ceased.
After trunk lines and major streets are treated, crews move to residential/local streets with traction agents, such as sand.
Heavy snowfall, of 4 inches or more, means additional equipment and plows are deployed. Crews and equipment are utilized as circumstances dictate. After trunk lines and major streets are treated and/or plowed, residential streets are addressed. During heavy snow storms, winter maintenance equipment is staffed on a 24-hour schedule (12-hour shifts) until all city-maintained streets are treated.
You can help large emergency vehicles and solid waste collection trucks by removing your car from curbside parking during and after a heavy snow storm.
When a snow emergency is declared, special parking restrictions may go into effect. Where street parking is normally permitted, restrictions would allow vehicles to be removed so city services and emergency vehicle access can be maintained. "Snow emergency" streets must be kept clear of parked cars at all times during the emergency. Vehicles left in place on these streets may be ticketed and towed.
Residents will be alerted to a snow emergency via CTN Channel 16, a2gov.org, Facebook, Twitter (@A2GOV) and local media.
Residents and/or property owners are responsible for removing snow/ice from adjacent sidewalks, crosswalk ramps and bus stops. Beginning this 2015–2016 winter, residents/property owners will receive only one warning, per season, before incurring fines.
Please exercise caution and care when shoveling, especially during extreme cold. Remember, moving snow/ice from private property onto a public street, sidewalk or bridge not only poses a significant safety hazard, it's against the law.
Within 24-hours, any accumulation of snow greater than 1 inch must be cleared from adjacent sidewalks (A), concrete bus stop walks (B) and crosswalk ramps (C). Ice accumulations must be treated immediately, to prevent surfaces from being slippery, and then the slush removed within 24 hours. The city is not responsible for clearing mailboxes (D) of snow and/or ice.
Any snow/ice that has accumulated by 6 a.m. must be removed from adjacent sidewalks, bus stop walks and crosswalk ramps before noon.
The city provides residents with up to 5 gallons of a sand/salt mixture, per visit to 721 N. Main St . or one of six park locations: Allmendinger, Buhr, Burns, Leslie and Veterans Memorial. Residents should bring their own shovel and bucket and load material themselves from the marked pile. This material is not for contractors.
Reporting a street or sidewalk
To report excessive snow or ice on a street or sidewalk, please use the A2 Fix It app or report online via the A2 Fix It page. To report a street by phone, please call 734.794.6320, 8 a.m. –5 p.m. To report a sidewalk by phone, please call Community Standards at 734.794.6942 Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to find out more about salt, sand, funding for road maintenance and much more.
Snow-related video programs
Winter Safety Tips
- Be cautious of bridges that may be icy when the approaching pavement is clear and dry.
- Slow down when visibility is low or when road conditions are snowy or icy.
- Accelerate and brake slowly and avoid abrupt steering maneuvers
- Don't pump anti-lock brakes
- Don’t attempt to pass a snow plow vehicle while they are plowing.
- NEVER attempt to pass a snow plow on the right.
- Plow drivers have limited visibility and cannot see directly behind the truck.
- Make sure your windshield is clear of ice and snow before you start out. “Peephole driving” is unsafe for you and other drivers.
- Snowplow drivers need all the help they can get when it comes to maneuvering large trucks through traffic and along the roadways for the benefit of all of us. Please do your part and “Don't Crowd the Plow!”
For Property Owners
- Plowing snow from private property onto the a public street is illegal. This includes shoveling snow from a crosswalk ramp or sidewalk into the street.
- Don’t pile snow high near intersections or driveways obstructing others vision.
- Before a storm hits, remove your car from street parking and wait till the plows clear the road before returning.
- Keep rocks, timbers, fences, basketball hoops, garbage bins, reflectors, and other items away from the road.
- The City is not responsible for keeping mail boxes clear of ice and snow. Please make sure to maintain your box to ensure postal delivery.
- Maintaining the end of your driveway could decrease chances of getting plowed in.
- Never build snow forts, make tunnels, or play in ditches or snow banks by the road.
- Stay away from the edge of the roadway as you wait for the school bus, get the mail, or watch the snow plow.
- Stay away from the end of a driveway when a snow plow is approaching.
- Keep sleds and toys away from the roadways at all times.
- Remember, plow drivers can’t always see you.
City of Ann Arbor Street Snow Maintenance Procedures (PDF)