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Q & A on Borough Snow Removal

Why is Snow Dumped in the Curb Cuts and Other Snow Removal Mysteries

To better understand the cold realities of snow removal, we interviewed an experienced snow plow driver. 

He explained that snow removal problems compound when we get from about 8 inches to over a foot.  That is when there is a large volume of snow on the street—more than you can imagine if you are just looking at it–and it all has to go somewhere.

Although the men plowing try to be mindful of keeping fire hydrants and curb cuts clear, they find that many times it is just not possible.  Also, even when the plow operator can find an open space to dump the snow, “you can only pile it so high.”

Dumping Snow on Street Corners and Curb Cuts

We also learned that snow removal is a hard job.  Regarding curb cuts, if there is a lot of snow, you can’t see where the curb cut is unless the homeowner has already shoveled it.  The street corners are actually rounded, and there is no usual place for a curb cut—it can be anywhere in the corner area.  The corner is also the easiest “large” place–free of mailboxes and driveways–to push the snow to.   The drivers do try to divide up the snow so is dumped fairly equally in any vacant area, so that no one has a mountain of snow on their property.  And if the drivers do push the snow away from the street corners, they then need to push it down the street to anywhere they can find a space.   

Plowing Cul de Sacs

You might think that cul de sacs would be easier to plow, but our expert explained that they can actually be tougher.  “It is not easy to maneuver a large truck with a snow plow attached to the front that is pushing snow,” he explained, and at the end of the cul de sac, driveways are spaced very close to one another.  Yet the snow has to go somewhere. That maneuverability problem also plagues the drivers when they try to be exact concerning where they push the snow to, even on straightaways.

I Clear My Driveway and Then the Truck Comes Back and Plows it Under. . .

People wonder why after they clear their driveways and walks, the snowplow comes back, and then they have to shovel again.  It is the driver’s job is to clear the streets, and when they do that, the only place to put the snow is on both sides, where it sprays up on everything that was just cleared.  Snowblower owners compound the problem when they clear their sidewalks by blowing the snow into the street—which then will be plowed back up on the resident’s property when the plow drives through again.   Our expert suggests that residents wait until the road plowing is finished before they clear the end of their driveway, so they only have to do it once.

The High Cost of “Tidying Up” While Removing Snow

The job of snow removal is exhausting for the driver.  To clear a local heavy snowfall, often the individual is stuck in his truck for up to 10 hours.  If we instruct the plow drivers to minimize the snow left on curb cuts at the corners, unfortunately the cost of clearing each intersection will double. The Borough has budgeted $46,000 to pay for snow removal in 2021, plus another $23,000 for the salt for the trucks.  Although we are asking the drivers to be mindful of the curb cuts, fire hydrants, etc. we also need to be realistic.

A Solution That Always Works:  Pitching in Together to Help Our Neighbors

Although we don’t know how much snow we will get this winter, we do know that each person’s job of clearing their walks and driveways always easier when neighbors pitch in to help.  It is also a good idea to be mindful of residents for whom snow removal is a harder job, such as for those over 70, those with disabilities, and residents who live on corners.

Councilman Gary Hoffmann, a snowblower owner who is concerned about snow removal and clearing the handicapped ramps in the borough, would like to start a list of residents with snowblowers who would be willing to help others.  He has added his name as first on the list.  If you would be willing to help, please contact ghoffmann@borough.collegeville-pa.gov

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