Snow & Ice Control Program


The control of accumulations of snow and ice on the public ways of the City of Fitchburg is the responsibility of the Department of Public Works. Snow and ice control is emergency work and shall be accomplished as efficiently and quickly as possible with the resources available to City government. Many factors interact to make the effects of each snow or ice event unique. Consequently, the snow and ice control plan for the City must be flexible enough to cope with and respond to varying conditions during and after each winter storm.

The following is a general description of how the Department of Public Works plows snow from City streets. Details are contained in this manual:

  • Step 1 - When a snow storm begins, the DPW responds by treating the main roads with salt and calcium chloride. Treating these roadways serves two purposes: to keep traffic moving, and to prevent the snow from bonding to the pavement
  • Step 2 - Snow plowing begins when snow accumulates one (1) to two (2) inches, or forecasts indicate that it will. Over 70 city and private plows can be called out and assigned to plow pre-determined routes. The City’s policy is to plow the full width of the street, curb to curb, during each storm
  • Step 3 - Once snowfall has stopped and plowing is winding down, salt trucks begin post-storm salting in the following areas:
    • Main streets and bus routes are salted to achieve bare pavement conditions.
    • Residential streets with hills are sanded to improve traction.
    • Flat streets are sanded only if icy conditions exist.

Because of the high cost associated with removal of plowed snow, large snow piles will be removed only when necessary from streets and municipal parking lots in the downtown area. Snow accumulations may also be removed from heavily traveled streets as time and budget constraints permit. Any removal operations performed on streets are for the purpose of facilitating the safe and proper flow of vehicular traffic only.

Snow & Ice Control Operations

During a winter storm, City plow/spreader equipment will be dispatched when necessary to plow and treat Fitchburg’s streets. Trucks shall be assigned to one of eighteen (18) zones or routes into which the City is partitioned. If snowfall is expected to be in excess of six (6) inches, the DPW will call private contractors to supplement its own crews. These plows will first clear the primary streets (“main lines”). After those streets are open for vehicular traffic, the plows will then clear all remaining streets (“side streets”) listed on the eighteen (18) general plow maps. The goal is that all improved streets are to be cleared for vehicular travel within twenty-four (24) hours of the end of a winter storm.

Within snow zones and routes, primary streets will be plowed and treated continuously until they are open for vehicular traffic. Then the secondary streets will be plowed and treated. Finally, all other streets in each zone or route will be opened for vehicular travel.

Snow Warning & Alerting Procedure

The DPW Superintendent of Streets shall monitor weather alerts submitted by the private service that submits forecasts customized for Fitchburg, as well as National Weather Service and commercial weather forecasting services during the winter storm season. When snow or ice conditions develop between 3 p.m. and 7 a.m., the Police Department shall alert the Superintendent of Streets.

Public Sand Pile

For the convenience of the public, the DPW provides a sand pile on Broad Street, west of the Rollstone Street Bridge. Fitchburg residents are welcome to take reasonable quantities of sand for their use. Residents are responsible for providing their own vehicle and equipment.

Departure from Policy

The City of Fitchburg recognizes that winter conditions vary from year to year and from storm to storm. Consequently, when conditions warrant, the Commissioner of Public Works may order a departure from the snow and ice control and removal policies as stated in this manual in order to adjust to existing conditions.