Snow and Ice Control FAQ

Q: How many streets does the city clear?

A: There are approximately 192 lane miles of streets to clear in the City of West Allis. This does not include multi lanes and parking lanes on main thoroughfares and residential streets. For an average snow storm the City’s fleet may travel 500 to 1,500 miles depending on the severity of the storm. Addressing this amount of street miles with multiple passes can take from 12 hours to over 24 hours to completely clear during a snow storm depending on the amount of snow, temperature and duration of the storm.  Something to keep in mind is that a good portion of plowing and clean-up still needs to be done after the storm’s end.  In addition, parked vehicles and other obstacles can create even more of a challenge to the plow driver by causing a narrower space for vehicles to clear the snow and additional time to clean/remove snow from the curb and leaving large deposits of snow for their neighbors.

Q: I just saw the plow on the next street.  Why didn’t they come down my street?

A: There are 39 residential plow routes, 16 main thoroughfare routes,  15 miles of public sidewalks, over 45 dead-end streets, 40 cul-de-sacs, 20 bus stops, 20 bridge walk areas and approximately 30 municipal parking lots in the City which require personnel from the Department of Public Works to address.  The plow you saw may not be assigned to your residential route. In addition, plows may travel through other plow routes to get to their assigned route, as well as returning to the DPW to fuel up or refill on supplies.

Q: Will the City follow the same protocol for each snow event?

A: Snow and ice operations may include any combination of the following:  plowing, application of salt and/or abrasives and the use of brine to achieve the best results.  These are general practices and may vary depending on a variety of different weather elements such as temperature, wind, moisture content, storm duration, lake effect and other weather conditions.  Because of this, each weather event may differ.  We also must consider the timing of the storm to adequately schedule staffing for the appropriate length of the storm and the type/amount of precipitation so at the conclusion of the storm we have the optimal amount of plow operators available.

Q: Why is my street always plowed last?

A: The City’s residential plowing area is divided into sections.  Each section is designed to eliminate unnecessary left turns and crossing traffic for the most efficient snow removal.

Q: The plow left a pile of snow on my sidewalk/at the end of my driveway.  Why would they do that and will they come back to clean it up?

A: Unfortunately, the nature of snow is that if there is enough of it, it will pile and dump where we don’t want it.  Our drivers plow at low speeds to help mitigate this effect but this doesn’t always help in the case of a heavy snowfall or parked vehicles near your driveway or alley.  It’s possible that snow piles on curbs are unable to accommodate any further snow, causing the pile to dump onto your sidewalk.  Our goal is to plow as close to the curb as possible to maintain the width of the street so adequate space is available for emergency travel. Alternatively, when snow plows clear snow to the side and curb-to-curb in order to allow for traffic passage and parking, this causes snow from the plow blades to be left at the open curb and at the end of your driveway.  Depending on the amount of snow and the duration of the storm, multiple passes by the plow may be required to remove the snow from the street area and requiring removal by residents.  Vehicles that are parked on the street also contribute the amount of snow that is distributed when plowing.  It is the resident’s responsibility to clear the sidewalks and passageways of their properties.  If you are concerned about snow removal at your property, you may wish to contact:

1. Milwaukee County Department on Aging, (414) 289-6874

2. Neighbors, friends, and family

3. Area churches, school clubs, or scout groups

Q: Does the city plow alleys?

A: Contingent on staffing availability, the city does a one-time pass-through to treat and plow approximately 42 miles of alleys when snowfall is greater than two inches. Alleys are addressed after the main thoroughfares and residential streets have been addressed.

Q: Why don’t we plow and salt all the streets in the City, specifically designated thoroughfares and residential streets?

A: The City limits the amount of salt that is applied to the streets in an effort to protect the groundwater, lakes, rivers, and streams.  Only the main thoroughfare routes are salted-all other streets receive less amount of salt and/or sand mixture to act as an abrasive on hills, intersections, and curves.

Q: Why did the City just plow down my street and not plow the street entirely curb to curb?

A: When snow accumulations are high during a snow storm the City will make every attempt to plow a lane on each residential street, at least once, before going into a full plow operation.  This will allow citizens access while the snow storm is still active.  When applying salt to the street the City may have the plow clear a path to assist with the salting application on the road surface as well.

Q: What about plowing and parked cars?

A: Oftentimes, plows are unable to properly clear all streets due to parked cars.  The City will return for re-plowing eight to 48 hours later contingent on staffing availability.  Please make note of emergency thoroughfares during declared snow emergencies and residential parking restrictions.

Q: Why do I sometimes see plows with their plows up?

A: The city has a variety of tasks to perform during a snow storm to address the residential plow routes, main thoroughfare routes,  public sidewalks, a variety of dead-ends, cul-de-sacs, bus stops, bridge walkways and municipal parking lots.  Drivers must drive to and from their assigned route from the DPW where they are dispatched. When applying the plow the speed in which you travel is greatly reduced so when traveling to a designated area the plow is up.

Q: What can I do to help?

A:  Please understand that your route drivers put in a lot of hours, oftentimes away from their own families, for long periods of time in order to ensure that main thoroughfares are clear for rush hour traffic, both morning and evening.  During the storm our main objective is addressing the driving lanes and as the storm concludes we address all multi-lanes which may require additional plowing throughout your neighborhood.  Adhering to city guidelines can help to ensure this is a smooth process, in turn streamlining street clearing and post-storm cleanup.

Additional ways to help:

1. Do not blow snow onto the street, alley or other City right-of-way at anytime.

2. Check snow emergency parking requirements, including emergency thoroughfares.

3. Try to find off street parking whenever there is snow accumulation.

4. Vehicles parked on both sides of the street make it very difficult for a plow to pass and service the street.  Most times the plow will have to back out of the street without plowing.

5. Verify proper mailbox placement.

6. Clear adequate space for your refuse/recycling container to be serviced on your collection day.