Snow and Ice Control

Winter in Central Iowa

Living in Iowa, we all know how unpredictable our weather can be. Although our average snowfall is approximately 32 inches, we can only rely on the most current meteorological information to predict our future needs.

With a mostly rural population and several types of streets, the City takes a serious approach to the problems associated with snow and ice control.

Normal Snow Conditions

Our fleet of snow fighting equipment is prepared before snow is forecast. The City is fortunate to have dedicated staff capable to operating the multiple pieces of equipment used to fight snow and ice. Our staff will do our best to keep streets, parking lots, city-owned sidewalks, and trails open for safe winter travel.

The City's snow removal priorities are:

  1. Major arterial roads such as Lincoln Highway, Main Street (6th Street), 19th Street, S-14, and 610th Street (Airport Road) ; the minimum network which must be kept open to provide a transportation system for police, fire and emergency responders.
  2. Other arterial routes such as 6th Street, South B Avenue, South G Avenue, and 11th Street and Municipal Facilities and Parking Lots
  3. Residential Streets and Cul-de-sacs
  4. Haul Main Street (6th Street)
    * Plowing or material spreading of any streets may be stopped at any time to go back to higher priority areas to re-apply material or plow if conditions warrant.
    * Five (5) crews are working simultaneously in different areas of the community.
    * Without delay, it takes approximately 12 solid hours for all crews to finish the entire community for one snow fall.
  5. Alleys outside the downtown area and trails.

Emergency Snow Conditions

For a snow event with an accumulation of two inches or more “all hands are on deck”. During these events, it may take a bit longer to get to the third or fourth priority areas.

A snow emergency shall be in force for the purpose of implementing procedures pertaining to the location, citing, or removal of vehicles parked on City streets and parking lots that would otherwise impede the progress of snow removal within the City.

Definition. A snow emergency is defined as any accumulation of snow one (1) inch or more; it shall not require a public declaration or announcement by the City.
Notifications. Signs shall be erected at the main entrances to the City and entrances to all city parking lots notifying the public that parking restrictions are in effect between October 1 and May 31. This may also be posted on the city social media page and posted on the city website during the months of October through May.

All Parking Prohibited. During the time that a snow emergency is in force, no person shall park, abandon or leave unattended any vehicle on any public street, alley, or City-owned off-street parking area from the time there has been an accumulation of one (1) inch of snow until 48 hours have passed or the snow has ceased to fall and has been removed or plowed from the street, alley or parking area.

Duty to Remove. During the time that a snow emergency is in force, it shall be the duty of all persons who are the registered owners of vehicles parked on the City streets or in City parking lots, as well as the duty of any person who has parked a vehicle on a City street or in a City parking lot, to immediately remove such vehicle from the street or parking lot within one-half hour from the time that the snow emergency becomes effective. For purposes of this section, the phrase “vehicle parked on a City street or in a City parking lot” or similar words includes vehicles that have become stuck, snowbound or otherwise disabled on any public streets or parking lots.

Issuance of Parking Citation Issuance and Towing of Improperly Parked Vehicles. Vehicles found to be parked in violation of this section may be cited for the violation and, to obviate the safety hazards occasioned by incomplete snow removal, be summarily towed on orders of a police officer to some location where the vehicle may be lawfully parked or to the towing firm’s vehicle storage lot. All costs of such towing, parking citation, and any subsequent storage shall be assessed against and paid by the operator or registered owner of the vehicle. The officer ordering the towing shall keep a record of each vehicle towed, the place where it was taken and by whom. Such action by the City shall not excuse the owner or operator of the towed vehicle from any of the provisions of subsections 3 and 4 hereof.

Redemption of Vehicles. In the event a vehicle is impounded, it may be reclaimed by the registered owner or lien holder of record by payment of the parking citation as well as of all towing and any subsequent storage costs within ten (10) days of the initial impoundment. If not reclaimed within the initial ten (10) days, the provisions of Chapter 80 of the City Code shall govern the redemption of the vehicle. In the event a vehicle is moved to another location pursuant to subsection 4 above, the registered owner of the vehicle shall be liable to the City for the reasonable expenses incurred in towing and relocating the vehicle and shall pay the same to the City within fifteen (15) days after a statement from the City is mailed to the registered owner at the address on the current registration form as shown on the records of the County Treasurer.

The penalty for a violation under City Ordinance 69.14 is $50.00

Citizen Responsibilities

Snow can be beautiful, but it can also create hazards. When residents fail to clear their sidewalks, the results can be treacherous. We need your help in protecting pedestrians from possible injury.

Residents are required by ordinance to clear sidewalks (including those crossing alleys, crosswalks and driveways) within 24 hours of the end of the storm. Please pile the snow on your yard, not in the street. If your sidewalk is icy, you may correct the hazard by applying a heavy coat of de-icer. A helpful hint for residents – clear your sidewalks after the snowplows have finished plowing to the curb.

Mailboxes and Fire Hydrants

The City will plow the snow within the confines of curb line to curb line of the street. During heavy snowfalls there may be times when City plows cannot physically place the snow onto the right-of-way. During these times residents will be responsible for clearing the snow around their mailbox to assure delivery of mail. It is also the resident’s responsibility for assuring that the face of the mailbox is properly installed: the face should be flush with the back of the curb and be adequately constructed to withstand snow clear efforts by the City. It is also a good idea to clearing snow from around any fire hydrant that may be in your yard. This will help our public safety crews more easily identify them in case of an emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many things determine when the snow plows are sent out: the rate of snowfall per hour; the moisture content of the snow; the ambient temperature of the air; the temperature of the pavement; the wind direction and velocity; the time of day; and the forecast of the predicted snowfall. Unless extenuating circumstances make it inadvisable to do so, snowplows are activated when two (2) or more inches of snow have fallen on the ground.

Definition. A snow emergency is defined as any accumulation of snow one (1) inch or more; it shall not require a public declaration or announcement by the City.
Notifications. Signs shall be erected at the main entrances to the City and entrances to all city parking lots notifying the public that parking restrictions are in effect between October 1 and May 31. This may also be posted on the city social media page and posted on the city website during the months of October through May.

All Parking Prohibited. During the time that a snow emergency is in force, no person shall park, abandon or leave unattended any vehicle on any public street, alley, or City-owned off-street parking area from the time there has been an accumulation of one (1) inch of snow until 48 hours have passed or the snow has ceased to fall and has been removed or plowed from the street, alley or parking area.

Duty to Remove. During the time that a snow emergency is in force, it shall be the duty of all persons who are the registered owners of vehicles parked on the City streets or in City parking lots, as well as the duty of any person who has parked a vehicle on a City street or in a City parking lot, to immediately remove such vehicle from the street or parking lot within one-half hour from the time that the snow emergency becomes effective. For purposes of this section, the phrase “vehicle parked on a City street or in a City parking lot” or similar words includes vehicles that have become stuck, snowbound or otherwise disabled on any public streets or parking lots.

Issuance of Parking Citation Issuance and Towing of Improperly Parked Vehicles. Vehicles found to be parked in violation of this section may be cited for the violation and, to obviate the safety hazards occasioned by incomplete snow removal, be summarily towed on orders of a police officer to some location where the vehicle may be lawfully parked or to the towing firm’s vehicle storage lot. All costs of such towing, parking citation, and any subsequent storage shall be assessed against and paid by the operator or registered owner of the vehicle. The officer ordering the towing shall keep a record of each vehicle towed, the place where it was taken and by whom. Such action by the City shall not excuse the owner or operator of the towed vehicle from any of the provisions of subsections 3 and 4 hereof.

Redemption of Vehicles. In the event a vehicle is impounded, it may be reclaimed by the registered owner or lien holder of record by payment of the parking citation as well as of all towing and any subsequent storage costs within ten (10) days of the initial impoundment. If not reclaimed within the initial ten (10) days, the provisions of Chapter 80 of the City Code shall govern the redemption of the vehicle. In the event a vehicle is moved to another location pursuant to subsection 4 above, the registered owner of the vehicle shall be liable to the City for the reasonable expenses incurred in towing and relocating the vehicle and shall pay the same to the City within fifteen (15) days after a statement from the City is mailed to the registered owner at the address on the current registration form as shown on the records of the County Treasurer.

The penalty for a violation under City Ordinance 69.14 is $50.00

City Ordinance requires property owners to shovel their sidewalks. If you see an unshoveled walk that is dangerous to pedestrians, please call 382-5466.

Plows have the tendency to ride on top of densely compacted snow; thus the reason for operating during unpopulated hours of the middle of the night. If traffic has driven on streets before they are plowed, the compacted snow can be extremely difficult to remove.

We publicize the Snow Emergency on the City’s website, Police Department Facebook Page, City Hall/Public Safety Facility sign, and Gates Memorial Hall sign.

When snow is forecasted it is best to plan ahead and have your vehicle off the street before the snow begins to accumulate. It is difficult to do a good job of removing snow when vehicles are parked on the street during a snow event.

Your vehicle will be ticketed and/or towed for parking in the street during a snow occurrence. Be mindful of anticipated snowfall before leaving for work in the mornings or before retiring at night and make arrangements to park vehicles off the street. Even if the snow emergency is not in effect, the snow plows may be sanding or salting the streets.

The Street Department makes every effort to clear the streets of snow/ice all the way to the curb, but it is not always possible. The United States Postal Service depends on the resident to meet postal requirements regarding delivery and collection of mail to curbside boxes. Removing snow and ice accumulations from the approach and exits to mailboxes allows the carrier to deliver mail safely and efficiently.

If your mailbox is damaged by a plow the City will repair or replace it with a standard metal mailbox and treated post Call 515-382-4813 to report a damaged box. Residents are responsible for replacing mailboxes that are knocked down by snow due to a pre-existing state of disrepair or deterioration. Custom mailboxes are placed in the public right of way at the property owner’s own risk; repair or replacement will be with a standard metal mailbox and treated post.

For a resident this can be quite annoying, but unfortunately it cannot be helped. Snowplow drivers do not intentionally fill driveways. When plowing a street, the excess snow accumulates along the curbside, gaps such as an open driveway will inevitably be filled with new snow during this process. Waiting to shovel until the end of the snowstorm will help minimize the need for repeated shoveling. When you shovel, do not push the snow into the street. The practice of depositing snow from driveways and sidewalks into the street is prohibited by City Ordinance.

Plows need to go a minimum speed in order to throw the snow off the roadway onto storage areas in the public right-of-way. We ask operators not to throw the snow any further than necessary. In some cases; however, the sidewalks may be close to the curb and the City is unable to avoid putting snow on them.

Potholes can be caused by many factors such as: expansion and contraction of the pavement due to temperature fluctuations; inadequate drainage; faulty materials and unstable sub grade, to name a few. We strive to repair potholes as soon as we are aware of their existence. To report a pot hole, call the Street Department at 515-382-4813 and leave a message.

 

 

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