The City of Topeka Public Works Department strives to provide effective snow and ice removal services to the City streets allowing motorists to safely travel within the City when winter weather conditions compromise the driving surface. The plan is designed to make the most effective and efficient use of personnel and equipment.
Motorists are encouraged to exercise appropriate precautionary driving skills and adjust their driving to the level necessitated by the weather conditions.
MONITORING OF SNOW AND ICE CONDITIONS
Topeka Public Works, in coordination with the City’s Emergency Management Coordinator, shall be responsible for monitoring snow and ice conditions. The Public Works Department will respond on a 24-hour basis.
The Public Works Department will utilize a reliable, contracted weather forecasting service to monitor and track winter storm conditions.
When the on-duty Public Works Supervisor determines a response to snow or ice conditions is necessary after normal working hours, the following notifications shall be required:
- Emergency Management Coordinator
- Necessary operational employees
- Immediate supervisor
- Topeka Police Department
Priorities have been established to help the City provide the most effective and efficient snow and ice control.
View an interactive map of City snow routes here:
The established priorities are generally as follows:
Primary Level – Streets considered being major traffic routes (arterials), collector and residential streets involving severe grades, bus routes, business districts, school zones and emergency snow routes.
- Emergency Snow Routes prohibit parking or becoming stuck without snow tires anywhere along one of the routes. Crews plow these routes curb to curb and spread deicing material on the roadway. Vehicles that become stuck without snow tires or left parked along these roadways are subject to citation or towed away at the owner’s expense.
Secondary Level – Collector streets, residential streets with significant grades and selected intersections.
- Residential streets will be treated with deicing materials when conditions warrant and all primary and secondary routes have been completed. Plowing in residential areas is only executed during a major event, upon directive from the Public Works Director. Should the decision be made to plow residential areas, the work will be started as soon as adequate plowing has occurred along the arterial and collector routes to permit the smaller plow vehicles to access the needed areas.
Plowing along residential streets will be limited to a single pass, except for known problem areas (Hot Spots), bus routes, or collector streets that pass through a residential area and are listed within the primary and secondary route sheets. When approaching known Hot Spots, bus routes, or pass through collector streets in a residential area plowing could be executed curb to curb.
Outlying Rural Roads that run along or just adjacent to the city limits that are the responsibility of the city are plowed and treated by city staff or other governmental agencies as part of an agreement between them and the Public Works Department.
Interstate and Highway System snow and ice removal is the responsibility of the Kansas Department of Transportation.
EMERGENCY STORM CATEGORY RATINGS
ESCR Level 5 – A level 5 event is a storm that is forecast to deliver light precipitation at a time when pavement and ambient temperatures are expected to fall below freezing for a short period of time.
Level 5 event - staff will closely monitor conditions to determine whether conditions require staff to pre-treat Hot Spots. Hot Spots include emergency response and law enforcement facilities, major hills, bridges, and roadways around hospitals, and other known problem areas that frequently ice up or are prone to drifting. When necessary these Hot Spots will be treated with a liquid deicing material in advance of the weather system, but an event that is forecast to begin with significant rainfall will not permit pre-treatment.
Staff will monitor conditions on a 24 hour basis for changes in the weather to ensure that the storm category does not elevate to a higher level.
ESCR Level 4 – A level 4 event is a storm forecast to deliver light to moderate precipitation when pavement and ambient temperatures are to be slightly below freezing that will result in a light accumulation of snow or ice on the roadway.
Level 4 event - staff will closely monitor conditions to determine whether pretreatment of Hot Spots, arterials and collectors is necessary. Hot Spots, arterials and collectors will be treated with a liquid or granular deicing material in advance of the weather system, but an event that is forecast to begin with rain will not permit pretreatment with either product.
Staff will monitor conditions on a 24 hour basis for changes in the weather to ensure that the storm category and response levels do not change and elevate to a higher level.
ESCR Level 3 – A level 3 event is a storm forecast to deliver moderate precipitation during a time period when pavement and ambient temperatures are at, and anticipated to remain below freezing during a significant amount of time, with total ice and snow accumulations of less than 4 inches. During a level 3 event, management will mobilize city staff and operate 24 hour coverage of street deicing activities.
Level 3 events can require treatment of paved surfaces with a liquid pre-treatment or granular deicing products, and minor plowing of snow that has blown into drifts; but not implementation of contracted plow vehicles.
ESCR Level 2 – A level 2 event is a storm forecast to deliver moderate to heavy precipitation during a significant period of time when pavement and ambient temperatures are at and anticipated to remain below freezing throughout the event. A category 2 event is expected to deliver heavy snow and ice with accumulations of greater than 4 inches. Work will include plowing and deicing of the emergency snow routes, all primary and secondary roadways, and windrowing and hauling off of snow accumulating in the downtown and North Topeka business districts.
Level 2 events will activate all designated Public Works staff, snow hauling contractors, and any contracted heavy snow plowing contractors.
ESCR Level 1 - A level 1 event is a major storm forecast to deliver heavy precipitation during a significant period of time, when pavement temperatures are at and anticipated to remain below freezing for an extended period of time. A level 1 event is expected to deliver heavy snow and ice with accumulations in excess of 6 inches. Work will include plowing of the emergency snow routes, all primary and secondary roadways, windrowing and haul off of snow accumulating in the downtown and North Topeka business districts, and may include single pass plowing of all residential streets.
Level 1 events will activate all designated Public Works staff, snow hauling contractors, heavy snow plowing contractors as well as the light duty residential snow plowing contractors. Level 1 events requires a declaration of snow emergency, activation of emergency snow routes and may include the plowing of all city streets including single pass plowing of residential streets.
PEDESTRIAN & PRIVATE AREAS
Sidewalks and Footbridges in the Public Right of Way
Certain sidewalks located in the public Right Of Way (ROW) are cleared as part of citywide snow removal efforts by Public Works.
Commercial and Residential Sidewalks
Removal of snow or ice from public sidewalks shall be shoveled within 48 hours after a snow fall ends. Commercial sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours from the end of an event. There are provisions for locations along major roadways where the city plows are forced to plow material onto the sidewalks, but walks covered with snow that has fallen that are left un-shoveled may be cleared by city crews at the expense of the property owner.
Pushing or Shoveling Snow in the Street
Clearing of commercial and residential driveways must be executed in a manner that does not place snow or ice into any street or alleyway. Failing to abide by this requirement creates a safety hazard and the person committing the act can be cited, charged for removal, and possibly found to be liable for any accidents that occur due to the negligence.
Snow Plowed on Sidewalks and Driveways
The City makes every attempt to avoid plowing snow into private property and driveway openings, but there may be no place to push the snow except to the curb. This can create the unavoidable problem of already cleaned sidewalks and driveways becoming re-covered with snow. The City asks for your cooperation in removing the snow again.
Curbside mailboxes and fire hydrants may become blocked. The City asks that you clear the snow from your mailbox to allow the post office to deliver your mail. The U.S. Post Office does not require all snow to be removed from the mailbox, but enough to allow the mail trucks to drive up to the mailbox for delivery. Attention to fire hydrants greatly assists the Fire Department in that most critical time of responding to a fire.
Snow plowing can also damage mailbox posts, depending on where they are placed and where plow vehicles need to place the plow to remove accumulated snow. Mailboxes damaged by being struck by a snow plow should be reported through a claim form available in the City Clerk’s office.
The City will plow paved alleys and approaches to facilitate garbage removal. Unpaved surfaces and some alleys are too narrow for snowplows to navigate. Parked cars can also prevent alley plowing. In these cases, the residents adjacent to these alleys are encouraged to clear the snow.
All problems and complaints should be reported to the Topeka e311 system at www.topeka.org/e311, or to the call center at (785) 368-3111.
Snow plowing can cause damage. Damage claim forms are available in the City Clerk’s office.