How Streets are Plowed in Ann Arbor
The City of Ann Arbor strives to maintain roads in the winter in order to provide a driving surface that is safe to use at reasonable speeds. The city does not follow a bare pavement policy because it is cost prohibitive, can have negative impacts on the storm water system and waterways, cause damage to roads and, in some cases, may not provide the safest roadway.
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 is responsible for plowing 98 miles of major roads and 197 miles of residential streets.
The goal is to treat all streets within 24 hours of an "average" 4-inch snowstorm.
Trunk lines, major roads and the next day's solid waste routes are plowed first.
The city uses salt to treat trunk lines and major roads and a 95/5 percent sand/salt mixture for select residential streets and locations.
Trucks and plows can be monitored via the city website, at a2gov.org.
The city's snow desk is activated during heavy storms. Call 734.794.6367 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. with questions or to report trouble spots.
Schools and privately owned areas are responsible for their own de-icing and plowing.
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 and the snow desk is activated. 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 (city website), Facebook (facebook.com/theCityOfAnnArbor), Twitter (@A2GOV) and local media.
Property owners and/or occupants are responsible for removing/treating snow and ice on the adjacent public sidewalk. Snow and ice which has accumulated prior to 6:00 a.m. must be removed by noon. Sidewalks must be also be treated with sand, salt or other substance to prevent it from becoming slippery.
Within 24 hours after the end of each accumulation of snow greater than 1 inch, the owner of every residentially zoned property must remove the accumulation from the adjacent public sidewalk and ramps leading to a crosswalk. Ice must be treated as mentioned above and removed within 24 hours after formation. Snow or ice can't be moved onto to public street, it must be placed on the extension, lawn or other portion of the property.
Beginning the first week of December, the city provides residents and/or property owners with one, five-gallon bucket's worth of sand and salt mixture, per visit at the maintenance yard located at 721 N. Main. The mixture pile is to the right of the drive before the gate and those picking up should use their own shovel and bucket and plan to load the material themselves. Please, no contractors, even if servicing sidewalks.
What if a sidewalk isn't cleared of snow or ice?
If a citizen has a concern regarding sidewalk snow removal 24 hours after the end of an accumulation greater than one inch, Community Standards is ready to help. Anyone can call 734.794.6942, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to report locations that may be in violation of the city snow removal ordinance. Callers should be prepared to leave their name and contact information in case staff requires additional information. Identifying information will be kept in strict confidence and only used to process service requests.
If an address is found to be in violation of the ordinance a "Sidewalk Snow Removal Notice" is issued. The notice serves as a reminder and gives the resident or property owner an additional 24 hours to correct the situation. If, upon re-inspection, the necessary action has not been taken, the City may clear the sidewalk and bill the property owner. Violations of the City Ordinance can result in fines of up to $500.
Field Operations is responsible for removing snow from 52 miles of City-maintained multi-use paths and sidewalks fronting City owned properties, corner ramps, refuse islands, and parks & recreation facilities. Priority is given to those areas with the highest volume of pedestrian traffic, (downtown area, recreation facilities, community centers, park parcels adjacent to Ann Arbor Public Schools, and refuses islands).
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
- Always wear your seatbelt and be sure that your children are properly buckled up
- Be cautious of bridges that may be icy when the approaching pavement is clear and dry
- Do your best to minimize distractions so your focus can be on driving
- 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 they cannot see directly behind their trucks
- Make sure your windshield is clear of ice and snow before you start out. “Peephole driving” is unsafe for you and other drivers on the road
- 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
- Don’t plow snow across the road or shovel snow from your driveway onto shoulders or roadways
- Don’t pile snow high near intersections or driveways obstructing others vision
- Park vehicles away from the road and follow local parking ordinances related to snow removal
- Keep rocks, timbers, fences, basketball hoops, garbage bins, reflectors, and other items away from the road
- Keep areas around mailboxes clear in order to assist in safe mail delivery and to help prevent damage to mailboxes
- Maintaining the end of your driveway could decrease chances of getting plowed in, or having your mailbox damaged
- 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, the plow driver can’t always see you
Sidewalk snow removal assistance
- Neighborhood Senior Services—applies only to current NSS clients. Residents may call: 712.7775 or contact www.nssweb.org
To suggest other nonprofit sources of snow shoveling assistance to consider placing on this web page, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of Ann Arbor Street Snow Maintenance Procedures (PDF)