The main plow/salt routes are comprised of arterial roadsand collector roads, as defined by traffic volumes, fire/hospital emergencyroutes and Suffolk Transit bus routes.
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The City of Suffolk subscribes to an advanced weather forecasting service. When a storm alert is issued, we apply a salt brine solution to our main roadways. Once the storm warning is issued, depending upon the timing and nature of the pending storm, crews are brought in and put on stand-by. Once the storm starts, salt trucks are sent out on designated salt routes to apply salt as necessary. Main routes are completed first, then secondary and then the local roadways.
The City Manager, in conjunction with the Director of Public Works, Police Chief, additional Public Safety and other department heads, determine that conditions exist that would warrant a Snow Emergency and reports same to the Mayor. The Snow Emergency shall go into effect four (4) hours after declaration. (City Codified Ordinances, Part 5, Title 3-Traffic Regulations, Article 527.02)
Please note that the City and surrounding municipalities do not always declare snow emergencies at the same time. Check with your local news media or on the city’s website (www.suffolkva.us) to see if the City of Suffolk has called a Snow Emergency.
Please contact the Public Works Roadway Division at 757-514-7600. Staff will be working 12 hour shifts covering and monitoring the storm.
The plows are designed to ride on "guides" (shoes) that raise the blade approximately 1/2 inch from the surface of the roadway. This is done to prevent damage to both the vehicle and infrastructure from raised manholes, catch basins or water valves. When plowing, our goal is to make residential streets passable; not to clear them to the bare pavement. Once the street has been plowed and salted, the interaction of the salt and vehicular traffic is required to melt the remaining snow cover. Streets with low traffic volumes will therefore remain snow covered longer.
Streets located in these developments are private property (private streets have yellow street signs) and are the responsibility of the homeowner/ condominium association (per Section 74-41 of the Suffolk Municipal Code). Please contact your association or property manager for further information.
Under City Codified Ordinance Sec. 74-41: Whenever snow shall fall and lie on the street of the City, it shall be the duty of each owner or occupant to clean the snow from the sidewalk and gutter in front of the place owned or occupied by him within six hours after the snow shall have ceased to fall unless the same is at night and, if at night, then within six hours after sunrise the next day.
Clear sidewalks are essential for many citizens especially those with disabilities, people who enjoy walking as form of exercise and children who walk to and from school. Snow covered sidewalks increase the likelihood of slip and fall accidents.
All of our snow plow drivers attend many hours of training in order to be certified to safely operate a snow plow. However, accidents do occasionally occur. In this instance, please contact the Risk Management Department at 757-514-4028. Please note that there are also private contractors and citizens who drive around with plows on their vehicles. All City vehicles are clearly marked with the City’s emblem along with that vehicles’ department and vehicle number.
The City of Suffolk has over 1,620 lane miles of primary,secondary and local roadways. The City’s main plow/salt routes are maintainedby upwards of 20 vehicles working around the clock.
During and immediately following the snow event, crews areworking to keep vital primary routes open for emergency traffic. After theprimary routes are sufficiently treated, crews will expand their work tosecondary and then to tertiary routes. As snow melts and traffic increases,this often requires going back to maintain areas previously cleared. All ofthis work, over such a large area, requires a significant amount of time.
Residential streets are usually not treated, as the timethat it takes to get the primary, secondary and tertiary routes completed this allowsfor melting in the residential areas to take place. Additionally, neighborhoodstreets are narrow and often have cars parked in the street making it difficultto clear snow and increasing the chance of an accident with the plow.
The City must remove the snow from the traveled portion ofthe road. On two-way streets where there is only parking on one side, the plowoperator cannot push the snow away from the parked cars into the oncomingtraffic, as it would create a hazard and liability. Snow is always pushed awayfrom the oncoming traffic. When heavy snowfalls are predicted, residents areasked where possible not to park on the roads. This is done to reduce thechance of plowing in parked vehicles, eliminating the chance of damagingvehicles and allowing for a more efficient plowing operation.
TheCity of Suffolk’s plow operators take pride in clearing the streets on theirroutes as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Common sense and good safetypractices dictate that each driver should take a 15-minute break every threehours; drivers also receive a 30-minute lunch break during their 12-hour shift.It is dangerous, both for the snowplow driver and the public, if a fatigueddriver is behind the wheel of a snowplow. It is in the best interest of allconcerned for the drivers to take occasional breaks.
ThePOTENTIAL for a medical emergency does not warrant priority treatment. Anyoneneeding an ambulance in a medical emergency should contact 911 where all necessary steps will be coordinated. Equipment willbe diverted for emergencies ONLY WHENREQUESTED BY AN EMERGENCY SERVICE AGENCY OR THE SUFFOLK POLICE DEPARTMENT. Utilize 911only in life threatening emergencies or for emergency Fire and Rescue services.If you need help, but it’s not an emergency, please contact the PoliceNon-Emergency Number at 757-923-2350 option: 0.
For a resident this can be quite annoying, but unfortunatelyit cannot be helped. The snow must, at minimum, be removed from the traveledportion of the road but our plow drivers are requested to plow curb to curbwhere possible. When the City receives a heavy snowfall, if possible, do notshovel your driveway until after the plow has gone by. If you must shovel donot throw the snow out onto the roadway as you may create a hazard for anothervehicle, and if an accident were to occur you might be held liable.
The Public Works Department spends anywhere from $500,000 to$750,000 per year. In 2017 weexperienced only 1 storm and the Roadway Division spent $579,932.00. We usedover 4,782 tons of de-icing materials and applied 19,000 gallons of liquidanti-icing materials.