While some jurisdictions follow regimented snow removal policies, it has always been the policy of the Town of Zionsville to undertake snow removal activities as thoroughly as necessary to ensure the safest vehicular travel reasonably possible and provide access to all homes. A main roadway completely clear of all snow does not serve the homeowner who is snowed in on a neighborhood street. Therefore, while the initial focus during a snow event is addressing primary roadways, the side streets and neighborhood streets are addressed as quickly as possible and then concurrently throughout the remainder of the storm. It is important to remember that the goal during winter weather is not streets completely free of snow, but rather streets that provide traction and vehicular control.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: My road looks clear, so why do you keep coming back?
A: There are several reasons why this occurs. Most importantly, during a major snow event of approximately 5″ or more, passes are made to keep the road open and passable. Once the storm abates, we then return to clear snow all the way back to the curb line or pavement edge. This prohibits the snow from refreezing on the street, making the road essentially un-plowable in the event that another snow occurs in the relatively near future. Additionally, this clears areas that are frequently used for on-street parking. Finally, during heavy snow, the US Postal Service must be provided access to your mailboxes to maintain mail service.
Q: A truck hit my mailbox. Will you replace it?
A: Yes and no. If a truck or plow physically hits a mailbox, the Town will reimburse the homeowner for the cost of replacement. However, this is extremely rare; commonly the cause of mailbox damage is from 200-300 pounds of snow being thrown from the plow blade, and is unavoidable. In this situation, the Town will not replace damaged mailboxes. This is consistent with Boone County’s policies, as well as most municipalities in the area.
Q: How fast are you going to throw snow 15 feet from the roadway?
A: All drivers are instructed to follow all traffic laws, including speed limits, and to lower their speed when necessary to maintain safe operation. In most cases, it is impossible even to attain posted speed limits, and snow plowing typically occurs in the 15-20 mph range on minor streets and 25-30 mph on main thoroughfares. Slower speeds are ineffective, as the trucks lose traction if they do not maintain momentum.
Q: How much snow do we get before you plow?
A: Plowing is always viewed as a last resort. In any snow event, we try to melt as much of it as possible. Once the decision to plow is made, usually when 3 or more inches have accumulated or are expected to accumulate, plowing will commence. If weather conditions are favorable and the salt application is working effectively, plowing may be temporarily or permanently suspended.
Q: Do you plow cul-de-sacs?
A: This depends on the current snowfall expected, and subsequent weather anticipated. As earlier stated, we make every attempt to melt snow before plowing, and as cul-de-sacs are low-speed areas, our goal is only to maintain access to homes. Cul-de-sacs are typically the last area to receive service, with the exception that passes are made into and out of them during the storm in order to maintain access to homes. If weather is conducive to melting the snow within a day or two, we may not return to completely remove snow from cul-de-sacs.
Q: Why do I get all the snow piled in front of my house?
A: This question is usually posed by homeowners on a cul-de-sac. When you look at the configuration of most cul-de-sacs, there is little room between driveways and mailboxes to place piles of snow. Due to area geometry and snow plow mobility, the snow gets piled at the easiest and most efficient location so that we may get to everyone as quickly as possible.
Q: Can you avoid plowing across my driveway and blocking me in or out?
A: Unfortunately, no. There is no other way to remove snow than starting in the middle of the street and moving outward. This always results in a generally uniform placement of snow along the edge of the street, which means across drives as well. It is not intentional, but merely unavoidable in any practical sense.
Q: Who decides when to apply salt to the streets?
A: During business hours, the Street Department monitors weather and tries to anticipate as much as possible. Because Town staffing is limited, we rely on the Zionsville Police Department to keep us apprised of road conditions, particularly at night when they are patrolling.
Q: What can a resident or business owner do to facilitate the snow plow process?
A: Keeping the streets free of parked cars is extremely beneficial. Additionally, do not throw snow cleared from sidewalks and driveways into the street. This is too concentrated for the salt to work effetively and these areas will tend to refreeze quickly creating icy spots on the roads. Also, whenever practical locate trash cans a few extra feet from the street to avoid disturbance caused by snow being cast from the plows.
Please contact the Zionsville Street Department with any specific questions. Public safety is our primary goal, and we ask that during the snowy winter season, everyone understand that there are certain inherent problems associated with snow removal beyond the plain nuisance of it all.