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:
The City’s policy is to plow in residential areas only after average snow accumulation reaches four or more inches and only after the three priority routes above are cleared.
The City does not clear snow from alleys or driveways.
How many streets are included in treatment and plowing processes in the City?
Emergency snow routes, arterial streets, and school and bus routes cover over 1,200 lane miles. Residential streets add over another 1,500 lane miles.
How do I know if there is a parking ban?
The City uses the following methods to inform the public of snow operations:
- Local news media sources
- The City website – lincoln.ne.gov
- Email alerts/RSS feed
- Twitter – sign up at twitter.com/lincolnsnow. You do not need a Twitter account to receive SMS alerts – text “follow lincolnsnow” to 40404 (standard text messaging rates apply).
- Time Warner Cable government access channels 5 and 10
Residents also may contact the Snow 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?
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:
- University Place
- College View
- 11th and “G”
- 17th and Washington
- 25th and Sumner
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.
A residential parking ban applies to streets that are not emergency snow routes, arterials or bus routes or included in a snow removal district. Parking is first banned on the even-numbered (north and east) sides of the street. Once the Mayor has terminated that ban, parking will be banned on the odd-numbered (south and west) sides of the street, and parking is again permitted on the even side.
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.
The following lots and facilities are available for parking once they are cleared of snow:
- 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)
- Peterson Park (4400 Southwood)
- Van Dorn Park (9th and Van Dorn)
- 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”)
- 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?
The City provides snow removal service to residential streets when snow accumulation averages four inches or more. See the Winter Operations Plan for more information.
How does the City measure snowfall and when to commit additional resources to plowing residential streets?
Transportation and Utilities monitors snowfall recordings at 12 sites across the City to determine whether the average snowfall was 4 inches or more. We must also weigh a number of other factors when determining when to dedicate additional resources to plowing residential streets, including:
- Duration of the snow event;
- Rate of snowfall (and how quickly an event ends);
- Temperature before, during and after an event;
- Next 24- to 48-hour forecast to determine how quickly snow might melt;
- To what extent residential streets already have compacted snow and may not be removable by plow;
- Availability of space to store plowed snow on the streets;
- Potential for melting and refreeze, causing ice dams on residential streets; and
- 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 Snow 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.
The City thanks all property owners for clearing their driveways and sidewalks and for any additional clearing needed after the residential plowing operation. To keep your street clear of ice and snow, please avoid moving or blowing the snow back into the street.
Our goal is to deliver the safest and most efficient streets possible after a snow event, and we appreciate your patience.
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). 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.
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.
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 snow storm. 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.
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.
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 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.
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 Snow 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 Snow Center for assistance.
What can I do if my mailbox is hit by a snow plow 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.
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.
Why did a 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.
If a resident has a question about a specific piece of equipment or location, they can contact the Snow Center at 402-441-7644.
What’s that liquid stuff you are putting on the streets, and will it hurt my car?
Depending on the type of storm that’s forecasted, crews may pre-treat all major arterials, bridges and other trouble spots. The City is now using a salt brine mixture that includes beet juice, which allows it to better adhere to road and bridge surfaces. The pretreatment is not intended to keep the streets free from snow and ice. Its main function is to accelerate the melting process. That helps minimize snow pack, making it easier for snow plows to peel the snow from the street.
This process leaves thin lines of residue on the streets. Testing has shown that the beet 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.
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.