Our Inclement Winter Weather Goals
We work 24/7 until we achieve bare pavement on all Priority 1 roads (Major Arterials, Minor Arterials, Major Collectors and Minor Collectors) and then, if necessary, we continue to work 24/7 until all other roads within our system are passable. Passable does not mean bare pavement. Passable means that a road can be traveled with caution. In winter storms involving heavy snow accumulations, we make roads passable by plowing them for two way traffic (except for one way roads). Our plowing operations push off loose snow and we attempt to clip off ridges created by earlier traffic that may present ruts difficult to negotiate.
What We Do…
Snow removal is a year round activity for Henrico County Department of Public Works. Long before the cold winds blow and flakes fall, we have cleaned, greased and maintained all of our snow removal equipment. We have trained all of our employees on their snow duties, plowing/salting, maps and equipment. We have hired contractors with additional equipment and specialized equipment such as large capacity trucks, motor graders and loaders. We have also stocked up on necessary salt, sand and chemicals used during snow and ice events.
When the forecast calls for inclement winter weather, the Henrico County Department of Public Works and its sister departments go into “snow mode”:
- We operate 24 hours a day in two 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week until all of our Priority 1 roads are bare pavement and all others are passable.
- We focus upon Priority 1 roads first. These carry the higher volumes of traffic such as Lauderdale Drive or Laburnum Avenue. We strive for bare pavement as quickly as possible on Priority 1 roads. We use a combination of salt, sand and plowing operations to achieve bare pavement, depending upon field conditions.
- Once we have achieved bare pavement on our Priority 1 roads we move our resources into subdivisions, if we determine they are un-passable. At this point we sometimes find the packed snow/ice has stubbornly bonded to the pavement making it very difficult to achieve bare pavement in subdivisions. When faced with snow/ice packed on the pavement for multiple days, we achieve passable conditions by plowing (sometimes just one pass per lane) and spreading sand on inclines and curves in order to improve traction on the slippery surfaces.
- Passable means that a road can be traveled with caution. In winter storms involving heavy snow accumulations, we make roads passable by plowing them for two way traffic (except for one way roads). Our plowing operations push off loose snow and we attempt to clip off ridges created by earlier traffic that may present ruts difficult to negotiate. This may require motor graders that achieve more downward pressure than trucks with front mounted plows. In cases where inclines and curves are involved, an application of sand may also be made after plowing to assist with traction to make a road passable. Passable does not mean bare pavement. We do not have a bare pavement goal in subdivisions.
- We do not take down requests for snow service once we are in a 24/7 response. We strategically strive not to divert our dedicated resources to responding to individual complaints and specific requests until we have at least methodically plowed and/or sanded every applicable road in our system. If Fire or Police request our involvement due to an emergency response, then we will respond to Fire/Police needs immediately.
- As roads are plowed, private driveways are blocked. There is no way we can clear each private driveway, and to attempt to do so would render us unable to clear our public streets. Clearing private driveways is the responsibility of homeowners. Depending upon weather and road conditions, we may plow the same road numerous times during a period of several days. Unfortunately this means private driveways may need to be cleared again by homeowners.
- After our snow removal operations are complete, street sweeping operations follow along where sand had been placed. Swept sand cannot be recycled for the next storm since it contains other debris that would damage our sand/salt spreaders.