Winter Operations Frequently Asked Questions

What are the priorities for applying treatment and plowing streets?

The Transportation and Utilities (LTU) Department follows a very specific plan for each snow/ice removal event. The first priority is always for safety services, so the following order is observed:

  1. Emergency snow routes and arterial streets
  2. Remaining arterial streets and school and bus routes
  3. Residential streets (if deemed necessary)

The City does not clear snow from alleys or driveways.

How was the Winter Operations Plan created?

The Winter Operations Plan was developed with citizen input through the citywide Taking Charge survey, citizen taskforces and the City Council involvement through the budgeting process.  All of these efforts weigh the costs and benefits of expanded service. The plan is updated annually.


Costs of Winter Operations

How much do drivers pay for snow removal per year?

Lincoln drivers pay $7.85 per year for street snow removal. This is paid through drivers’ Wheel Tax (Street Improvement Vehicle Tax).

How much does it cost for one hour of snowplowing?

$148 per snow vehicle

How much does it cost to plow residential streets per snowstorm?

$300,000 to $460,000 (depending on the severity of the storm)


What tools does LTU use for combatting snow and ice?

Brine

Anti-icing liquid, also known as brine, is put on streets before the winter storm to help prevent snow/ice from freezing to the road. This helps minimize snowpack, making it easier for snowplows to peel the snow from the street.

Will brine or salt hurt my car?

Brine which includes beet juice, leaves thin lines of residue on the streets. Testing has shown brine rinses off clothing and vehicles with water.

Salt causes corrosion, and both the brine and granular material that are spread on the streets have very high concentrations of salt. But the City’s increased use of brine will allow the salt to have greater effect, resulting in an estimated 25-percent reduction in total salt use throughout the winter season. In any case, it’s a good idea to wash your vehicle on a regular basis during winter months.

Rock Salt

De-icing tool that helps breaks down snow/ice frozen to the road.

Snowplows

Clear away snow/ice after being broken down by rock salt.

Sand

Sand is only used on trouble spots. Sand increases traction for approximately three vehicle passes.


Why did a snow truck go by with the blade up?

The City previously used separate sanders and plows, but the current fleet consists mainly of combination sander/plows. If two of these units are working in tandem, the first one plows and the second one may only be applying material with its blades up.

The sander/plows can travel much faster with their blades up. Operators may travel this way for several reasons:

  • The operator may be headed to a specific area or an accident or other incident where help is needed quickly.
  • The operators may be going back to the shop for fuel, repairs, and/or reloading of material. If they took the extra time to travel with blades down, the districts to which they are assigned would see a delay in their service.
  • The operator may be headed to the next assigned location, following plows that have already cleared the route.

Questions

If a resident has a question about a specific piece of equipment or location, they can contact the Traffic Management Center at 402-441-7644.


Winter Operation Resources

Street Coverage

Emergency snow routes, arterial streets, and school and bus routes cover over 1,200 lane miles. Residential streets add over another 1,400 lane miles. Combined, this is equivalent to driving from Lincoln to New York City and back. That is a lot of lane miles!


Parking Bans

How do I know if there is a parking ban?

The City uses the following methods to inform the public of winter operations:

  • Local news media sources
  • The City website – snow.lincoln.ne.gov
  • Email alerts/RSS feed
  • Twitter – follow LTU at twitter.com/ltulnk
  • Time Warner Cable government access channels 5 and 10

Questions

Residents also may contact the Traffic Management Center at 402-441-7644 to find out about parking bans.

If you know someone who does not speak English, contact City Communications at 402-441-7831 for the current list of local agencies providing information in other languages.


Where can I park?

Snow Emergency Parking Ban

In a snow emergency, parking may be banned on both sides of emergency snow routes, arterial streets and City bus routes. Along non-arterial streets, bus routes are marked with signs.

Snow Removal Districts Parking Ban

When a snow emergency is declared, the Mayor may prohibit parking on both sides of the street in areas designated as snow removal districts. In these areas, the snow is plowed into windrows, loaded into trucks and hauled out of the area. Typically, snow removal occurs between midnight and 8 a.m. The districts include streets in the following areas:

Free Downtown Parking Options

During snow removal district parking bans, free downtown parking will be available from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. at Center Park Garage, 1100 “N” St. The customer will be charged for any time beyond the nine hours at the posted garage rate. If the vehicle remains in the facility past 10 a.m., the customer will be charged for the entire time the vehicle was in the facility.

Residential Parking Ban

A residential parking ban applies to streets that are not emergency snow routes, arterials or bus routes or included in a snow removal district. If residential parking bans are required, parking will be banned on only one side of the street, and the sides will not switch as they have in previous years. During residential bans, parking on odd-numbered sides of the street will be banned in odd-numbered years like 2021. Parking on even-numbered sides of the street will be banned in even-numbered years.

How long are parking bans in effect?

All bans are in effect until terminated by the Mayor. Vehicles parked illegally during parking bans are subject to fines, towing and storage costs at the owners’ expense.

Lots and Facilities Available for Parking once Cleared of Snow

Southeast

  • Antelope Park, North and South of Auld, Children’s Zoo (Capitol Parkway and “A” Streets)
  • Eden Park (45th and Antelope Creek Rd.)
  • Holmes Lake Park roads and lots – north side only (70th and Normal)
  • Roberts Park (56th and Normal)
  • Tierra Park (27th and Tierra)

Southwest:

  • Peterson Park (4400 Southwood)
  • Van Dorn Park (9th and Van Dorn)

Northeast

  • Ballard Park (66th and Kearney)
  • Bethany Park – 3 lots (65th and Vine)
  • Easterday Recreation Center (6130 Adams)
  • Mahoney Golf Course lot (7900 Adams)
  • Peter Pan Park (32nd and “W”)
  • University Place Park, north and 1/2 south lot (49th and Garland)
  • UPCO Park (40th and Adams)
  • Woods Park – 2 lots (33rd and “J”)

Northwest

  • Air Park Recreation Center (3720 NW 46th)
  • Belmont Park and Recreation Center (12th and Judson)
  • Belmont Pool (1245 Manatt)
  • Highlands Golf Course (5501 NW 12th)
  • Oak Lake, east and west lots (1st and Charleston)
  • Oak Creek Dog Run (1st and Charleston)
  • Roper Park, east and west lots (10th and Belmont)

Citizens can also contact the nearest library or church to find out if any additional temporary parking facilities are available.


When does the City plow residential streets?

For some winter storms, private contractors will plow residential streets while Lincoln Transportation and Utilities (LTU) crews simultaneously treat and plow arterial, emergency, school and bus route streets. This effort is a test to see if this helps clear snow and ice from residential streets sooner.

Depth Guide

The City has relaxed the 4-inch depth requirement used in past years to initiate residential street plowing sooner when appropriate.

Residential Street Data Use

LTU monitors snowfall recordings at 12 sites across the City. Crews will use data to determine when and which streets need plowed. Some streets in one neighborhood may not need plows and other streets may.

Other factors to consider include:

  1. Duration of the snow event;
  2. Rate of snowfall (and how quickly an event ends);
  3. Temperature before, during and after an event;
  4. Next 24- to 48-hour forecast to determine how quickly snow might melt;
  5. To what extent residential streets already have compacted snow and may not be removable by plow;
  6. Availability of space to store plowed snow on the streets;
  7. Potential for melting and refreeze, causing ice dams on residential streets; and
  8. Frequency of weather events and cumulative street impacts.

If my street is not plowed, can I call to request plowing or de-icing service?

Yes, you can call and request service for a residential street.  These requests are addressed after priority streets are clear and as resources are available.  Submit your request through UPLNK, the City’s phone app to report non-emergency issues or by calling the Traffic Management Center at 402-441-7644.

Why does snow pile up at the end of my driveway when City crews plow my street?

This is an unintended consequence related to the amount of snow received and the safest and most effective way to clear residential streets. Operators clear from the center of the street out to the curb, leaving a windrow of snow in the gutter.  This is the best place for snow to melt and helps prevent refreezing in the middle of the street where vehicles are most likely to drive.  The more snowfall, the higher the windrow.

What can I do if my mailbox is hit by a snowplow or if my sod or sprinklers are torn up?

The public right of way, including the area between the street and sidewalk, is owned by the City. Property owners are allowed to place objects, such as mailboxes, sprinkler systems, landscaping and driveways, in the public right of way.

Property owners are responsible for maintenance, replacement or any damages to the objects on City property caused by, but not limited to snow removal, streets sweeping or other City activities. Those with questions can contact the City Law Department at 402-441-7281.

Cars are parked on both sides of my street, and I can’t get my car through. What should I do?

Call 402-441-6000 to report a street blockage outside of the downtown area (402-441-PARK in downtown area).

Enforcement

Vehicles parked in a way that does not allow other vehicles to pass may be ticketed for obstructing a public street at any time of the year. This situation is not only inconvenient but could be a safety hazard if emergency vehicles are unable to reach their locations.

Parking Guidelines

With heavy and prolonged snow, LTU is sometimes unable to clear the street to the curb because of the depth and volume of the snow. A vehicle should not be parked in a way that interferes with the use of the street.


Sidewalks

How soon after a storm do I need to have my sidewalk cleared?

City ordinance requires property owners to clear snow and ice from sidewalks by 9 a.m. the day following the end of the snowstorm. Sidewalks must be kept clear of snow and ice during the day. The entire width of the walk must be cleared, along with any adjoining wheelchair ramps or curb cuts. Residents also are asked to clear snow from any fire hydrants.

Can this be enforced?

It is illegal to push or blow snow into or on any street, alley or sidewalk. The Lincoln Police Department enforces this ordinance; however they must witness the action as it is occurring in order to issue any enforcement.

City Ordinance

If a property owner does not clear the walk and a complaint is received by the City sidewalk office, notice will be given to the owner. City ordinance requires written notice to be left on the front door or other conspicuous place on the property. If an unresolved problem is reported again, the City may hire a snow removal contractor, and the owner is responsible for the charges.

Questions

Questions can be directed to the LTU sidewalk office at 402-441-7541.


I’m unable to clear my sidewalk and driveway myself. What should I do?

Before the snow season arrives, arrange for a family member, neighbor or contractor to clear the snow for you.

Snow Angels Volunteer Program

The Transportation and Utilities Department’s Snow Angels program links volunteers willing to shovel snow with residents who need the service. Any individual or organization wishing to volunteer for snow removal as part of the Snow Angels program may sign up on the Snow Angels page. Those who need the help can find volunteers near their home online or by calling the Traffic Management Center 402-441-7644 during regular business hours. Due to limited staffing, those needing assistance are asked to wait until after it has snowed to call the Traffic Management Center for assistance.


Why do bike trails get cleared of snow before many streets?

The removal of snow from City bike trails is the responsibility of the Parks and Recreation Department, not LTU. Both bike trails and streets are an important part of the City’s overall transportation network, and many people use the City’s trail network all year.