Maintaining Public Streets during Snow and Ice Events
The mission of the City of Corvallis Public Works Department is to provide safe and passable roads to the best of our ability during the winter season. This plan sets out procedures to provide the safest possible roadway system and access routes for emergency response vehicles, transit and motorists. The City will provide such service in a safe and cost effective manner, keeping in mind employee and public safety, budget, personnel, and environmental concerns. The City will utilize internal and external personnel and resources to provide the service to the best of our ability in order to mitigate the impacts of winter weather.
Snow and ice control is a very visible service that affects everyone who travels during the winter months. Therefore, communication between the City and residents is important for the safety of the traveling public and the personnel involved in the snow and ice control operation.
Depending on the severity and length of the event, the City of Corvallis will use a variety of means to communicate snow and ice control information in the City, as well as provide additional information and/or phone numbers for street/road conditions around the area and state. This will be accomplished through one or more of the following sources:
- City web site (www.corvallisoregon.gov)
- City Newsletter
- Corvallis Public Works Snow & Ice Information Line (541-754-1771)
- Press Release/Public Service announcements on local radio stations
- Local cable television Public Access Channel 29 and Government Information Channel 21
All residents of Corvallis are requested to support the efforts of the Public Works Department's snow and ice control operations in order to achieve the best possible results in the most efficient manner. During snow emergencies and winter storm conditions, all residents are asked to remove their parked vehicles, boats, and trailers from all city streets. This will allow snow plows to clear the streets quickly and with fewer passes. Keeping vehicles off of public streets will also improve accessibility and minimize the risk of damage to private property from vehicles losing control on slick surfaces.
The City will not be responsible for damage or blockage of vehicles parked on the street, including vehicles that are isolated by snow piles during plowing operations. All garbage and debris recycling containers set out for collection should be kept behind the curb or in residential driveways at all times. Public Works is not responsible for damage to privately owned landscaping or structures, including but not limited to fences, signs, curbs, and wires that are installed within the public right-of-way.
Snow removal by property owners or occupants should not be stacked or stockpiled over catch basins or the ends of culverts. Rapid warming or thawing could overload drainage facilities, causing local flooding and/or possible property damage. City staff will clear blocked catch basins and culverts as storm response circumstances allow.
The City does not guarantee that streets will be free of snow and ice after plowing and/or sanding. Ultimately, it is each resident’s responsibility to insure that they can travel to and from their homes if necessary during winter events. Bare, dry pavement should not be expected and residents are asked to do the following:
- Carry traction control devices. Drivers should ensure their vehicles have appropriate traction control devices for the existing conditions and for the type of vehicle being used. Traction control devices should be installed prior to driving during snow/ice events.
- Drive only when necessary and plan for delays. More vehicles cause more congestion, delays, and unnecessary accidents.
- Be patient and courteous to other drivers. Slow down when traveling in hazardous conditions. Most accidents occur because the driver is going too fast for the weather conditions.
- Learn the City’s priority routes for plowing and sanding. Become familiar with them prior to a snow/ice event. Check the City website frequently to ensure you know which streets are open.
- Consider using public transportation. Corvallis Transit System (includes the Night Owl) and Philomath Connection buses operate during inclement weather and can maneuver through snow and ice more easily than most lightweight personal vehicles. Be aware that it is that buses will likely experience delays, depending on specific road conditions. Get real-time bus arrival information for CTS/Night Owl routes at: www.corvallistransit.com/rtt/public/ or connect with a mobile device at www.corvallistransit.com/mybus. The CTS and PC websites will have current information on route detours, stop closures, and potential suspension of services. You may also call transit dispatch at 541-766-6998 for scheduling and route information.
- Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Benton County Dial-a-Bus follows the Corvallis School District protocol in snow and ice conditions. When schools close due to inclement weather, routine Dial-a-Bus service is suspended. If safe passage is possible, rides will be provided based on their essential nature (for example, scheduled dialysis appointments at Samaritan Medical Center). Frail elderly or disabled residents and, if applicable, their caretakers are encouraged to consider personal safety issues first if planning any outdoor travel during snow and ice conditions.
- To obtain additional travel tips and information, go to: www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/pages/winterdriving.aspx.
DRIVEWAYS AND SIDEWALKS
During a snow and ice event, plowing and sanding will deposit snow and sand on sidewalks and driveways in the public right-of-way. It is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner/occupant to clear snow, ice, and debris from sidewalks and driveways. City crews will be assigned to clean sidewalks abutting city properties and leading to City building entrances.
Sidewalks not cleared within 24 hours after the snow and ice event has concluded can be subject to code enforcement actions (Municipal Code 5.04.050, Nuisances affecting public safety).
SNOW AND ICE RESPONSE ROUTES
Plowing and sanding will occur when staff determines that it is the best solution for the conditions that exist. Sanding will begin as soon as slick street conditions materialize. Sanding operations will stop if snow accumulations are covering over applied sand, making sanding operations ineffective. Plowing will begin when accumulating snow exceeds approximately two (2") inches. Freezing conditions make plowing ineffective. To view snow and ice removal operations, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfnnu27ZPUU.
The route priorities are:
The following streets are considered to be the minimum network which must be kept open to provide a transportation system connecting essential facilities, hospitals, fire stations, police stations and emergency response units and shall be designated Priority 1:
- Good Samaritan (Samaritan Drive and Emergency Room access)
- Fire Station accesses (5th Street, Circle Boulevard, 35th Street, Tunison Avenue)
- All Corvallis Transit System routes
- Select streets within the Central Business District connecting to essential facilities (2nd Street, Jackson, Tyler, Polk, and Adams Avenues)
- Corvallis Public Works access (Waterworks Drive)
The Public Works Director or his/her designee, Police Department, or Fire Department may initiate a road closure in these or any other locations that are deemed unsafe for vehicular travel.
The following streets provide significant secondary access routes for emergency responders and community travel and shall be designated as Priority 2:
- Arterials and collectors-- Circle Boulevard, Research Way, Brooklane Drive, 49th Street, 45th Street, Birdsong, 26th Street, 29th Street, 30th Street, Grant Avenue, Washington Avenue, Alexander Avenue, Thompson Street, Harrison Boulevard, Van Buren Avenue, Garfield Avenue, Glenridge Drive, Ponderosa Avenue, Witham Hill Drive and Elks Drive.
- Higher elevation areas-- Skyline West, South Hills, Garryanna, Rolling Green, Estaview, Elmwood and Myrtlewood
- Corvallis Municipal Airport
All other local roads not listed as Priority 1 or 2 shall be designated as Priority 3. Streets and areas in this category include:
- Residential streets that connect to arterial and collector streets listed in Priority 2
- City owned public parking lots
Except when requested by fire or police, plowing and sanding will not take place in the following areas:
- Private streets
- Streets and cul-de-sacs exceeding 15% grade
- Streets maintained by other agencies (ODOT, Benton County, OSU)
Follow this link for a map of snow and ice response priorities.
POST EVENT CLEANUP
Sand cleanup operations will begin at the conclusion of the storm when streets become free of ice and snow and the forecast does not call for more snow or ice within the next 24 hours.
Priorities for picking up sand will be the same as for placement of sand. Special attention will be given to main roads (arterials) with striped bike lanes to ensure they are clean.
DEPARTURE FROM POLICY
The City acknowledges the guidelines set forth in this document are of a general nature and recognizes storm event conditions may be so unusual or unexpected that a departure from this general program may need to be authorized. The City Manager and/or the Public Works Director may order a departure from these guidelines when conditions are such that it's necessary for the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City of Corvallis. The City Manager or his/her designee is authorized to publicly announce that non-emergency travel is not recommended when conditions warrant such a warning.
This policy does not, nor is it intended to, encompass all details of the City of Corvallis snow and ice control operations.
Residents are encouraged to:
- Be prepared
- Use traction devices on your vehicle
- Learn the priority routes for plowing and/or sanding
- Travel only when necessary
- Use public transit
- Walk to your destination
- Stock up on food and water supplies when an event is imminent
- Plan for delays
- Keep sidewalks along your property clear
Q: What is the overall purpose of the “Maintaining Public Streets during Snow and Ice Events” policy?
A: The purpose of this policy is to clarify and describe the City’s snow removal and sanding priorities and the level of service that is intended to be provided by City crews. The City does not guarantee that streets will be free of snow and ice after plowing and/or sanding. Bare, dry pavement should not be expected. The City will attempt to maintain adequate traction for vehicles properly equipped for winter driving conditions.
Q: In the event of bad weather, which City streets will be cleared first?
A: For snow and ice events, plowing and sanding in Corvallis are prioritized into four categories:
- Priority 1
The following streets are considered to be the minimum network which must be kept open to provide a transportation system that connects to essential facilities, hospitals, fire stations, police stations, and emergency response units: Good Samaritan (Samaritan Drive and Emergency Room access); Fire Station access (5th Street, Circle Boulevard, 35th Street, Tunison Avenue); all Corvallis Transit System routes; select streets within the Central Business District connecting to essential facilities (2nd Street, Jackson, Tyler, Polk & Adams Avenues); and Corvallis Public Works access (Waterworks Drive).
- Priority 2
The following streets provide significant secondary access routes for emergency responders and community travel: arterials and collectors—Circle Boulevard, Research Way, Brooklane Drive, 49th Street, 45th Street, Birdsong, 26th Street, 29th Street, 30th Street, Grant Avenue, Washington Avenue, Alexander Avenue, Thompson Street, Harrison Boulevard, Van Buren Avenue, Garfield Avenue, Glenridge Drive, Ponderosa Avenue, and lower elevation areas of Witham Hill Drive and Elks Drive.
- Priority 3
All other local roads and facilities not listed as Priority 1 or 2. Streets and areas include residential streets that connect to arterial and collector streets listed in Priority 2 and City owned public parking lots.
- Priority 4
Streets and areas in this category include: Higher elevation areas (Skyline West, South Hills, Garryanna, Rolling Green, Estaview, Elmwood, Myrtlewood, Witham Hill, Elks Drive), the Corvallis Municipal Airport, and Cul-de-sacs.
Note: Except when requested by fire or police, plowing and sanding will not take place in the following areas: private streets, streets and cul-de-sacs exceeding 15% grade, alleys, and streets maintained by other agencies (ODOT, Benton County, and OSU).
Q: How can I report hazardous road conditions?
A: Residents may report problems or concerns to Public Works (541-766-6916) during regular business hours (M - F, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.). To report hazardous situations after hours, weekends or holidays, please call 911.
Q: Who clears the sidewalk in front of my business or residence?
A: All sidewalks and walkways adjacent to City-owned and maintained property and public parking lots are cleared by the City. Public sidewalks and private parking lots are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. Sidewalks not cleared within 24 hours after the snow and/or ice event has concluded can be subject to code enforcement actions (Municipal Code 5.04.050, Nuisances affecting public safety).
Q: Will you be clearing bike paths?
A: We will attempt to plow or sand bike lanes on the streets; however, limited time and resources prevent us from plowing or sanding bike paths that are separate from the roadways.
Q: What should I move out of the street during snow and ice removal in my area?
A: Residents are asked to remove their parked vehicles, boats, and trailers from city streets if possible. The City will not be responsible for vehicles parked on the street that are isolated by snow piles due to plowing operations.
Q: The City plowed snow into my driveway and onto my sidewalk, when are they going to come back and remove it?
A: Our goal is to clear the roadway for safe travel. Unfortunately, berming is an inconvenient result of plowing. Adjacent property owners are responsible for clearing the berm to gain access to the roadway. We do not have the available resources to provide this service, and this is one way you can help.
Q: Why does the snow plow go down the street with the plow up?
A: There are many reasons for them to be traveling with the plow up. For example, the plow could be traveling back to the shop for repairs or there may not be enough snow on the street to plow.
Q: When do you sand?
A: Sanding will begin as soon as slick street conditions materialize. Sanding operations will stop if snow accumulations are covering over applied sand, making sanding operations ineffective.
Q: When do you plow?
A: Plowing will begin when accumulating snow exceeds approximately two (2) inches.
Q: I don't feel like driving in these conditions. What are my options?
A: Residents are encourages to use alternate modes, such as public transportation, if roads are icy. Visit www.corvallistransit.com for route and schedule information.