So, what does “finished” mean? Depending on who you ask, you are likely to get a different answer. But from a City standpoint, there are well-defined standards for snow control on our roads that keep our streets safe while staying on budget.
The City sands, salts, and plows roads and sidewalks based on a Council-approved priority system, with the busiest roads deemed the top priority.
What does a complete road look like?
Under the Snow and Ice Control policy, the busiest roads (Priority 1s or P1s) are plowed first and snow is cleared down to the pavement. Roads with lesser volumes of traffic, for instance in our residential areas, are typically done last and are simply “bladed” in order to pack down the snow to a drivable or passable condition.
Priority 1 and 2 routes - Bare Pavement Standard
In 2011, The City implemented a Bare Pavement Policy as the standard for snow clearing on Priority 1 and 2 routes (P1 and P2).
On P1 and P2 routes, crews will plow the snow so the pavement is showing on through-lanes. Crews clear these roads to bare pavement by first putting down material to prevent iciness and soften the snow on the road. Crews will then use a front plow, a plow on the front of a sander that pushes the snow to the side of the road, or a belly plow, a plow underneath the truck that moves snow to the side of the road.
Residential roads – Packed snow standard
In 2011, Council voted to include residential streets in The City’s snow control efforts. Under the policy, residential roads (P3 & P4 routes) are addressed but are not cleared to the pavement like Priority 1 and 2 routes.
Crews typically “flat blade” the roads in residential areas which means a sander operator tilts the blade down and scrapes the snow, packing it down in attempt to minimize ruts and make the road passable. Crews will use their plows to knock down snow ruts to 12 cm on residential roads and will apply material like salt or pickle, a salt/gravel mixture, depending on road temperatures.
Roads are flat-bladed in residential areas in an attempt to make roads passable so that all emergency vehicles are able to maintain access while also keeping windrows (the snow pushed to the sides of the road) as small as possible.
For more information on The City’s Snow and Ice Control Policy visit calgary.ca/snow.
Roads’ priority system
Priority 1 (P1) routes include major commuter roads that carry 20,000 vehicles or more per day as well as roads downtown that carry 8,000 vehicles or more per day. Examples include Macleod Trail, Glenmore Trail and Crowchild Trail.
Priority 2 (P2) routes are the feeder roads that run in and out of communities and typically carry 5,000 to 19,999 vehicles per day. Many of these are Transit bus routes.
Residential roads with school and playground zones, hills and intersections with stop/yields are considered a Priority 3 (P3), while the remaining residential roads that have the lowest traffic volumes are considered to be a Priority 4 (P4).
Snow removal involves plowing snow to the side of a road, and then using a snow blower to collect the snow and load it into the back of a dump truck. The snow is then taken to one of The City’s snow storage sites.
Snow removal is typically only done in the downtown core, and along major roadways where there is no extra space to pile snow.