Snow & Ice Control FAQ's

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Snow & Ice Control Frequently Asked Questions

What is the City’s priority system for snow plowing?

When weather forecasts indicate that icy or snow conditions may develop , Richland street maintenance crews may be mobilized to apply anti-icing chemicals to the arterials, collector streets (including school zones), and steep inclined streets. Depending on the type, accumulation, and recurrence of winter storm events, the streets supervisor will determine if and when additional resources will be called out in accordance with the priorities listed below. Snow removal efforts are for vehicular traffic. Bike lanes and shoulders are used for snow storage and are not included in the priorities listed.

  • Priority 1 - Main arterial streets
  • Priority 2 – School zones/Collector streets
  • Priority 3 - High priority steep streets
  • Followed by remaining residential streets 

How does the City prepare for the upcoming snow season?

Beginning in the month of October, City staff calibrate our de-icing and snow removal equipment. Inventories are taken on our salt, deicer, plows and other equipment. The equipment are prepared for duty through our Fleet Maintenance Shop. Crews validate street maps and identify new areas incorporated into the City.  

After a snowstorm, how do we deal with melting snow, run-off and water/slush? 

Stormwater and Streets crews address snowmelt / run off as soon as temperatures rise by clearing out storm drains as quickly as possible. Citizens can assist by placing their shoveled snow uphill from a storm drain and keeping the storm drain near their property clear of snow/ice buildup.

There are potholes, loose pavement and road damage caused by the snow/ice. How does the City address this?

As always, people can report road damage or potholes by submitting a service request (https://www.ci.richland.wa.us/service-request) via our website. Crews will fix the damage as soon as possible, provided it can be done safely and the road is not covered in ice/snow. The repair may be temporary in nature due to the cold weather. A more permanent solution will be applied when the weather improves. Potholes that are a hazard to traffic or pedestrians take priority. The City also aims to prevent any further deterioration of our transportation network.

Citizens can also call 942-7670 to report road damage.

We only have on-street parking in our neighborhood. Are we allowed to park on the street in a weather event.

Sometimes there are no other options for residents for parking other than on a residential street. The more cars parked off the street, the faster and more efficient the snow plows can be. If you have a driveway, please use it. Otherwise, we will make every effort to navigate around cars parked on a street. However, it is inevitable that your car may be blocked in by the plowed snow.

What are the requirements for snow removal from sidewalks?

Residential and business property owners and landlords are responsible for snow and ice control on their private property and public sidewalks fronting their property in accordance with City Ordinance (RMC Title 12.16.020). When shoveling your sidewalks, please do not place snow in the street, rather in your yard or your parking lots. 

Why do the snowplows move the snow and block my driveway?

During large storm events, it is inevitable that driveways will be blocked during plowing operations. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Why does the City ask us to clear access to fire hydrants?

In an emergency, every second counts. Fire hydrants that are blocked, concealed, or difficult to access due to snow or ice can impede emergency fire response.

Richland Fire Department suggests residents occupying property near a hydrant clear a 3 ft path around the hydrant and maintain a shoveled path from the street, sidewalk or driveway to the fire hydrant. This will make it visible from the road and firefighters can easily access it.

How can I help make the snow and ice control process be more efficient?

  • Whenever possible, pile snow to the right of the driveway (if you are looking at the street from your house) to reduce the potential of having it redeposited in your driveway opening.
  • Shovel your driveway after the storm ends to avoid doing it twice.
  • If the collection of garbage is interrupted due to a storm, remove all recycle and garbage bins from the street to avoid them being buried in snow.
  • Be neighborly!  If you have neighbors who are elderly, disabled or have other special conditions that make snow removal hazardous, please be kind and assist them!

How can I stayed informed of City winter weather event updates, including status of snow plowing progress?

Follow the City’s social media channels on Facebook and Twitter (@RichlandWA). Up-to-date information is also posted on our website at www.ci.richland.wa.us/snow.

In addition, you can sign up for flash alerts (https://www.flashalert.net/signup/) and subscribe to receive email notifications of facility closures or delays.

What are the cost implications of snow and ice control on our City budget?

Snow & Ice control efforts are identified in our Streets Maintenance Budget. In 2019, the City budgeted $86,000 for snow and ice control materials and supplies.

I once saw a snow plow parked in a restaurant parking lot during a bad snowstorm. Why was it there instead of on the streets working?

Snow plow operators take pride in clearing the streets on their routes as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Driving a snowplow is demanding, tiring work. Common sense and good safety practices dictate that each driver should take a 30-minute break every six hours. It is dangerous, both for the snowplow driver and the public, if a fatigued driver is behind the wheel of a snowplow. It is in the best interest of all concerned for the drivers to take occasional breaks.

I have a heart condition. Can you plow my street in case there is an emergency and an ambulance needs to get through?
The potential for a medical emergency does not warrant priority treatment. Anyone needing an ambulance in a medical emergency should 911 if it is a medical emergency.