When snow falls in Calgary, our crews plow, salt and sand according to the Seven Day Snow Plan. That means focusing on clearing high-volume roads first. On a snowy day like today, crews will work on these busy Priority 1 routes as the snow continues to fall. When these roads are finished, they’ll move into playground zones and residential areas over the next few days.
So, what does “finished” mean? From a City standpoint, there are well-defined standards for snow clearing on our roads that keep our streets safe while staying on budget.
What does a complete road look like?
Under the Snow and Ice Control policy, Priority 1 roads are plowed first and snow is cleared down to bare pavement within 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling. Once those roads are done, crews work on feeder/collector Priority 2 routes, which are also cleared to bare pavement.
Priority 1 and 2 routes: Bare Pavement Standard
On Priority 1 and 2 routes, crews plow the snow so pavement is showing on through-lanes. In order to clear these roads down to bare pavement, crews put down material to prevent iciness and soften the snow. Then they use either a front plow (on the front of a sander) or a belly plow (underneath the truck) to move the snow to the side of the road.
Residential roads: Packed Snow Standard
Residential streets are included in The City’s snow control efforts, too. Under the policy, residential roads and playground zones (P3 & P4 routes) are worked on, but are not cleared to the pavement like Priority 1 and 2 routes.
Crews typically “flat blade” in residential areas. That 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 use their plows to knock down snow ruts to 12 cm on residential roads and apply material like salt or pickle, a salt/gravel mixture, depending on road temperatures. Making residential roads passable ensures that all emergency vehicles are able to maintain access.
More information on the City’s snow and ice control
For current updates on snow clearing efforts, FAQs, and more information on our Seven Day Snow Plan, visit Calgary.ca/snow.