Winter is coming, snow removal on village’s mind

Staff Writer
Morton Times-News
Village of Morton street department workers shown here with one of the plow trucks.

The village of Morton’s Public Works Department

Many demands are placed on the village’s public works services on a daily basis. One example is our street system and the snow removal plan. If we experience several winters that are relatively mild and do not produce much snow, we become a little spoiled. The snow storm of Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 in 2006 served to remind us of what a tough Illinois winter event can be like. During the winter of 2007-‘08, all road salt supplies in the Midwest were depleted. Since then, salt prices have sky-rocketed. There is no such thing as a normal Illinois winter.

As with other village programs, the Public Works Department does not staff, equip or budget for the “worst case scenario,” but for the “most probable” level of effort required.

Our snow removal plan is an example of this philosophy. It takes an average of six passes (three in each direction) to clear a two-lane street, curb to curb. With approximately 90 centerline miles of streets to clear (some as wide as five lanes), total clean-up requires the plows traveling well over 700 miles. With nine trucks in operation, each one travels about 80 miles. Taking into account shift changes, refueling and restocking of salt and CaCl, approximately 14 hours are needed to clean-up a 4-inch snowfall, curb to curb (more snow and/or wind means more clean-up time). In addition, there are more than 91 dead-ends and cul-de-sacs, 13 parking lots and numerous alleys to plow.

During the snowfall, the effort is geared toward keeping the major streets clear, as well as the centers of minor streets. Some timely special treatment is required around schools and the downtown parking lots.  The 14-hour clean up starts after the snowfall stops. Salt is applied at the appropriate time and locations for both economic and environmental considerations.

Residents can assist the plowing effort by removing vehicles from the streets. The current village ordinance requires a vehicle parked at the curb on any street to be moved at least once in any 24-hour period.  

After a 2-inch accumulation of snow and/or ice, an automatic prohibition of parking on snow routes takes effect. A snow-emergency parking ban may be implemented, prohibiting parking on all village streets from midnight until the streets are cleared. During such a ban, violators can be ticketed and towed. Voluntary removal of vehicles parked on the streets reduces the need to invoke a total ban.

Many people clear their parking lot or driveway by pushing the snow into the street. Depositing snow in a public street is a violation of state law (Section 605ILCS 5/9-130). Snow piled in a street can present a hazard to traffic, can cause some problems for the village’s plows and is certainly inconsiderate of neighbors. We request that you keep your snow on your property, as required by law. “Wind rows” of snow at the curb line across driveways are an inevitable part of snow plowing. We do not remove wind rows from in front of drives.  You can reduce the impact of the wind row by depositing your driveway snow on the down stream side of your driveway.

The staff and the village Board review and update the snow and ice removal plan annually, usually around the first part of November. The snow and ice removal plan is the product of a thoughtful, deliberative process, and is endorsed by the Village Board. It can be viewed on Channel 22, or at the Village’s website.

We attempt to deliver exceptional service, while still remaining frugal in the provision of that service. We recognize that not everyone will be happy with our efforts — too much, too little, too soon, too late. One thing is certain:  despite our best efforts at snow and ice removal, Mother Nature can always humble us.