Safe and efficient snow removal key to City policy when Winter storms come calling

City of Muscatine trucks are loaded with salt and ready to hit the road to plow away any accumulating snowfall.

MUSCATINE, Iowa – When winter weather events (snow and/or ice) come to Muscatine, the City of Muscatine endeavors to maintain adequate traction for vehicles properly equipped for winter driving conditions and safe routes of travel for pedestrians. Snow and ice control is considered an emergency operation by the City of Muscatine; an operation that must be initiated quickly and continued on a round-the-clock basis until completed.

Representatives from City administration, the Department of Public Works, Muscatine Fire Department, and Muscatine Police Department monitor the forecast, determine resources needed for the weather event, and begin to stage those resources for snow removal operations. These representatives continue to meet as the storm approaches to determine the impact to public safety and to the safety of City workers.

The Department of Public Works (DPW) Snow and Ice Control Policy defines and outlines the objectives and procedures to be followed. Each winter storm has unique characteristics with climatological factors such as storm intensity and duration, wind, temperature, and snow/ice accumulation that are used to determine the City response to the event. The DPW plows streets in the order of (1) snow routes including hospital access streets, school access routes, and transit emergency bus routes, (2) central business district route, (3) residential streets, and (4) alleys. For more details, feel free to review the policy.

Snow Emergency Parking Plan

A snow removal operation, also called a “Snow Emergency”, activates an established plan for on-street parking. The activation can be declared by the DPW Director or the Roadway Maintenance Supervisor at the time ice or snow accumulations impede or hinder the safe movement of vehicular traffic or otherwise interfere with the safe movement of emergency vehicles or public transportation.

The City does its best to alert the public when a Snow Emergency is declared through the City website, City social media sites, local media channels, and Notify Me, the City’s free text notification system. Notice to the public is provided at least four hours before the beginning of the declaration. The Snow Emergency duration is a minimum of 48 hours. Sign up for Notify Me now to receive notifications.

For snow removal crews to properly and safely clear routes for travel, a snow parking plan is implemented on a voluntary basis until a Snow Emergency is implemented at which time the parking plan becomes mandatory. Vehicles parked on city streets in violation of the Snow Emergency Parking Plan, when in effect, are subject to $35 fines and/or towing. For more details, review the Snow Emergency Parking Plan.

The on-street parking plan works to increase the efficiency of snow removal operations by limiting on-street parking even if a snow emergency is not declared. In fact, the City urges residents to remember and utilize the on-street parking plan for any snow event of two inches or more.

The ability to clear city streets, curb to curb, and alleys in a timely, efficient manner benefits residents who need on-street parking and the City who can move on to other projects once the snow removal has concluded. Adhering to the parking plan can reduce the frustration of vehicle owners who often find their vehicles surrounded by snow piles and reduce the difficulties faced by snowplow drivers who must be aware of parked vehicles while clearing the streets.

To find out if a Snow Emergency has been declared you may call 563-272-2506.

Snow Emergency Routes & On-Street Parking

The City has five emergency snow plow routes which include snow ordinance routes, hospital access streets, school access routes, and transit emergency bus routes. These routes are cleared from curb to curb before the City proceeds to other streets. During a snow emergency, on-street parking is not permitted on either side of one of these routes until the streets are cleared. A color coded map of these routes is available on the City of Muscatine web site. (Snow Route Map)

According to City Code, streets that normally allow parking on both sides of the street will be subject to “alternate side of the street” parking during a snow emergency and this is the recommended parking plan during non-snow emergency events as well. The parking plan states that, on odd-numbered days of the month, parking is permitted only on the odd-numbered side of the street. Likewise, parking is permitted only on the even-numbered side of the street on even-numbered days.

There are two provisions for all streets where parking is allowed only on one side. If that side is on the even-numbered side, street parking is allowed only on even-numbered days with no parking allowed on odd-numbered days. Likewise, if the one side is on the odd-numbered side of the street, parking is allowed only on odd-numbered days with no parking allowed on even-numbered days.

The grace period (or transition time) for moving a vehicle between the first and second snow emergency day (and subsequent days as needed) is 12 a.m. to 8 a.m. For example, if the day was Nov. 28 and you were parked on the even side, you have until 8 a.m. on Nov. 29 to move your vehicle to the odd numbered side of the street. No tickets will be issued during the grace period.

Just because the snow emergency is over does not mean you can leave these vehicle on the street without moving them.  Muscatine Police will continue to ticket and tow vehicles that have not moved since the snow storm until the streets are clear. Muscatine Police Chief Brett Talkington reminds residents that the city parking ordinance states you MUST move your vehicles every 24 hours at least 25 feet. 

Sidewalk Snow Removal

It is the responsibility of abutting property owners to remove snow and ice from sidewalks within 24 hours after a weather event has ended. If a property owner fails to remove the accumulations within a reasonable time, the City, after attempting to notify the adjoining property owner, may remove the snow and assess the cost to the property owner. Residents are reminded that it is unlawful for any person(s) to remove snow and ice from private property by dumping them upon any public highway, street, avenue, alley, or sidewalk. Learn more about sidewalk snow removal.

The benefits of clearing sidewalks and driveways include reducing the potential for pedestrian falls while traversing the property, and clearing a safe path for public safety personnel if they are needed at the property. Cleared sidewalks help ambulance crews get to patients and to move patients from houses to the ambulance safely.

Refuse/Recycle Bin Placement

Snowplow drivers would greatly appreciate residents placing refuse and recycling bins in driveways and not in the streets during and immediately following any snow event. This will allow drivers to focus on clearing streets and will prevent damage to bins. Containers that are left in the street are subject to either being hit with a snowplow or forcing the snowplow driver to leave their plow to remove the container from their path.

 Fire Hydrants

The Muscatine Fire Department asks that property owners who have a fire hydrant on their property to take a few extra minutes while clearing their sidewalks and driveways to clear at least one foot around fire hydrants all the way to the ground and out to the street. Fire Department officials remind residents that seconds do count as emergency crews respond to structure fires and medical emergencies.

Thank You

The City of Muscatine extends their thanks to residents for their cooperation and in helping City staff do their jobs and to serve the public. If, by chance, City crews miss your street or if you need to file a complaint about a snow covered or icy sidewalk, etc., create a muscatineiowa.gov account and use the Let Us Know feature to submit problems or comments.

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