Truck Plow/ Spreader Operations

Truck Plow / Spreader Operations
As soon as conditions warrant at the inception of a winter storm, the DPW plow/spreader truck operators are dispatched onto their zones/routes by the Superintendent of Streets.

The Superintendent of Streets determines what types of materials will be spread on Fitchburg's streets. His decision is based on variables such as air temperature, pavement temperature, type of precipitation, wind, and forecasted post-storm air temperatures. Only salt is used on Main Street to eliminate the nuisance of blowing sand and dust.

Trucks will plow ahead of materials they spread when the operators determine that the conditions are warrant, or once snow accumulations on streets exceed one (1) inch in average depth.

Bridges will be checked for frost or slippery conditions when appropriate. If frost is present, salt or sand will be spread to increase traction.

Snow Plow Operations
If snowfall accumulations are in excess of six (6) inches on street surfaces, motor graders and plow-equipped front end loaders are usually dispatched to assist with plowing operations. These plows will first clear the primary streets (i.e., “main lines”). After those streets are open for vehicular traffic, the plows will then be dispatched to clear the streets shown on the general plow route maps. In the event of a severe winter storm, City plows and personnel may be supplemented with equipment and operators hired from the private sector.

Cul-De-Sac’s & Dead-End Streets
The City incurs proportionally more time and costs clearing snow from cul-de-sacs and dead ends than on typical “uninterrupted” stretches of City streets.

For efficiency, crews will, when feasible, use the following standard in plowing snow in cul-de-sacs:
  1. One full pass will be made around the perimeter of the cul-de-sac with a snowplow, pushing the snow to the center of the cul-de-sac, and thus, creating a pile.
  2. As time allows, the snow will be plowed out of the center of the cul-de-sac and dispersed to the sides of the street. Some cul-de-sacs either have a very short throat or may develop unusually heavy and uneven drifts; therefore, it may not always be possible for crews to employ this procedure.
Many of Fitchburg’s dead end streets are located on steep hills, making snow plowing and salting even more difficult. Experience has shown that the best way to handle these streets are to back up the street while applying sand and salt for traction, followed by plowing down the street.

Residential Driveways

One of the most frequent and disliked results in removal of snow from public streets is snow being deposited in residential driveways during plowing operations. As plows travel along streets, the snow accumulated on the plow blade has no place to go but on the adjacent streets and in driveways. Snowplow operators shall make every attempt to minimize the amount of snow deposited in driveways, but the amount can still be significant. The more snow that has fallen, the greater the problem will be.

One way residents can help is to pile snow they have shoveled from their driveways on the right side facing the street, in lieu of placing it on both sides at the end of the driveways. Doing this will help snowplow drivers avoid carrying piles from the other side back across driveways. Based on priorities and staffing levels, City personnel do not provide driveway cleaning.