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To help residents better understand the city’s snow plowing policy and strategies, this page contains answers to some frequently asked questions.
Is Plymouth’s snow plow policy different than other cities?
The City of Plymouth’s snow plow policies and tactics are substantially aligned with other comparable Hennepin County cities. Plymouth is part of Hennepin County’s Public Works Emergency Management Service, in which cities share their preparations and plans for upcoming storms.
In winter 2018-2019, the City of Plymouth implemented changes to its snow and ice management operations – including lowering the snowfall threshold to declare a snow emergency and modifying plowing operations for cul-de-sacs – to help improve service times. View the snow plow policy (PDF).
Note: Not all roadways in Plymouth are plowed by the city. Some streets are responsibility of the county (i.e. Rockford Road and County Road 101) and some are the responsibility of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (i.e. Highway 55 and Interstate 494).
When do you decide to plow?
Snow plow drivers pre-treat roads and plow main thoroughfares and priority routes during a snowfall, but continuous snowfall can mean that plowed streets quickly become buried again. View the snow plow route map (PDF).
Declaring a Snow Emergency
If more than 2 inches of snow falls, a snow emergency is declared and all city streets are plowed curb-to-curb. (The new snow emergency threshold was implemented in winter 2018-2019. The previous threshold was 2 1/2 inches or more.) Snow emergency parking restrictions are also in effect. Residents are notified of the snow emergency via eNotify email, the city's website and social media. Sign up for Snow Emergency Alert emails.
For snowfalls of less than 2 inches, the city treats and plows main roadways. Ice control measures are taken throughout the system, and special attention is given to stop signs, hills, bridges and curves.
It’s typically most effective to begin citywide plowing once the storm has subsided. Even with a crew of 30, in addition to contract plow drivers, it generally takes about 9 hours after snow stops falling to clear Plymouth’s more than 320 miles of roads and 920 cul-de-sacs.
What if my mailbox is damaged?
If a mailbox is damaged as a result of a direct contact by snow removal equipment during snow removal, the city will repair or replace the mailbox or reimburse the property owner up to $200. Documentation of costs incurred must be provided by the property owner for reimbursement. The city will not replace decorative, ornamental, or brick type construction. The city uses a standard four-by-four treated post and standard box.
If a mailbox or attached appurtenance is damaged due to indirect contact, including the force of snow generated by the snow removal vehicle, the city assumes no responsibility.
What happens if a plow digs up my grass?
The city, at its option, will place seed in areas where turf has been damaged on a city-owned right-of-way as the result of plowing activities. Landscaping materials installed or encroaching on a public owned right-of-way are permitted, but the owner assumes all risk of damage – the city assumes no responsibility for damages incurred to landscaping materials as the result of snow removal and ice control activities.
Where are the snowfall measurements taken?
Since snowfall can vary from one part of the city to the other during a storm, the city measures snowfall accumulation at Plymouth's three fire stations. If 2 inches of snow accumulation is measured at any of the fire stations, a snow emergency is declared and all city streets are plowed curb-to-curb.
Can I mark the edge of the yard with flags?
Yard markers or flags placed along the edge of the road may be helpful for snow plow drivers to more easily determine the curb line while clearing the street. However, please note that since plow drivers are clearing the streets curb-to-curb, snow may be pushed up and over the flags. Typically, the public right-of-way (city-owned boulevard) extends 10-15 feet back from the edge of the road to the private property line – the public right-of-way is where snow is stored. The city assumes no responsibility for damaged yard markers or flags.
How can I minimize the snow that gets plowed in my driveway?
To minimize the amount of snow a plow moves into a driveway, residents should pile shoveled snow on the left side of the driveway (as they face the house) to avoid having the plow push it back onto the driveway.
Note: It is unlawful to shovel, plow or blow snow into the street. Blowing snow in the street makes it more difficult to clear streets, especially cul-de-sacs.