Snow Removal Policies & FAQs

Snow Removal Policies

Snow Removal

For safety, routes are always handled in the same order.  Hot Routes are always first.  Hot Routes are major roads like State and Parallel and streets that serve police stations, fire stations, hospitals, and schools.  Secondary Routes are always second.  Secondary Routes are streets that carry traffic from Neighborhoods to Hot Routes.  Once these routes are complete, the Snow Crew begins work on Neighborhood Routes.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

The Goal is to Return Traction to Streets

The purpose of winter weather operations isn't to clean and clear streets. The goal is to restore traction to streets so that motorists can be as safe as possible. Restoring traction to streets can be a tricky business, but there are generally four ways traction can be restored to streets during winter weather:

  1. Restoring traction by plowing
  2. Restoring traction by using salt
  3. Restoring traction by using sand
  4. Restoring traction by using a combination of plowing, salting, and sanding. 

When temperatures fall below 15-degrees Fahrenheit, salt melts ice and snow more slowly. The colder it is outside, the longer it takes salt to do its work, and this has an impact on winter weather operations. During some storms, traction can be restored by moving snow away from roads with plows, and other storms, traction can be restored by using only a salt treatment. In other cases, plowing a street may reduce traction - especially in neighborhoods. 

When snow becomes tightly packed, ice forms underneath. In these instances, drivers may not plow because removing the top layer of snowpack would leave behind a solid sheet of ice that salt treatment cannot melt quickly or efficiently. Although it seems counterintuitive, a small amount of snowpack can increase traction and keep motorists safer than they may otherwise be.

 

Is there a Map of the Routes?

Yes, Public Works has an interactive map that shows snow routes and provides additional information about storm intensities and operational procedures.

Go To Interactive Page

Download or View the Snow Routes PDF

How are streets prioritized for cleanup?

For safety, routes are always handled in the same order. 

  1. HOT ROUTES
    • Hot Routes are always first
    • Hot Routes are major streets like State and Parallel and streets that serve police stations, fire stations, hospitals, and schools
    • There are 35 Hot Routes in Kansas City, Kansas
    • Hot Routes have the highest volume of traffic

  2. SECONDARY ROUTES
    •  Secondary Routes are always second
    • Secondary Routes are streets that carry traffic from neighborhoods to Hot Routes
    • There are 54 Secondary Routes in Kansas City, Kansas

  3. NEIGHBORHOOD ROUTES
    • Neighborhood Routes are always third
    • Neighborhood Routes are all other local streets
    • There are 145 Neighborhood Routes in Kansas City, Kansas

Although no snow event is the same, as a rule of thumb, it usually takes 10-12 hours after the snow stops falling to plow and treat Hot and Secondary Routes. Neighborhood Routes generally take 48 hours to plow or treat, assuming no interruptions to move back to Hot or Secondary Routes.

How long does it generally take to address City streets?

Although no snow event is the same, as a rule of thumb, it usually takes 10-12 hours after the snow stops falling to plow and treat Hot and Secondary Routes. Neighborhood Routes generally take 48 hours to plow or treat, assuming no interruptions to move back to Hot or Secondary Routes:

  • Hot & Secondary Routes
    • Take 10-14 hours after the snow stops falling to plow and treat

  • Neighborhood Routes
    • Take approximately 48 hours to plow and treat
    • Sometimes, this will take longer if the Snow Crew needs to return to Hot or Secondary Routes

How many miles are there in Kansas City, KS to clean?

Kansas City, Kansas has 2,400 lane miles of streets, which is more than many neighboring cities:

  • Overland Park - 1,900 lane miles
  • Olathe - 1,100 lane miles
  • Lenexa - 638 lane miles
  • Topeka - 1,600 lane miles

 

How are bridges handled?

During most storms, bridges often become icy before surrounding streets. In Kansas City, Kansas, the Snow Crew is responsible for 49 bridges. When it comes to bridges, keep the following in mind during a storm:

  • When snow or ice is imminent, but is not preceded by rain, bridges are pre-treated with salt to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the surface.
  • If rain precedes a snow storm, bridges are not pre-treated because it washes away salt
  • Even when pre-treated, bridges can become slick. Always slow down and pay close attention to your surroundings when crossing them

State Highway Snow Removal

Snow removal on state highways is provided by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). The following streets in Kansas City, Kansas are state highways maintained by KDOT:

  • 18th Street from Pacific Avenue south to the Johnson County line
  • K-32 from 65th Street west to the Edwardsville city limit
  • K-5 from Hutton Road north to the Leavenworth County line
  • K-7 from Bonner Springs city limit north to Leavenworth County

To report snow removal issues on state highways, contact KDOT by calling 5-1-1 anywhere in Kansas.

How do cars parked on the street impact operations?

Vehicles parked on the street disrupt and slow down snow removal and treatment.  To ensure snow removal from streets is as quick and effective as is possible, the most helpful thing residents can do is to get their cars off the street wherever possible.

How should I shovel snow from my driveway?

To minimize snow being plowed back onto clean driveways, residents should pile snow from their driveways on the right side facing the street, in lieu of placing it on both sides at the end of the driveways.

Snow Driveway

What happens if my property is damaged?

Please make sure mailboxes are properly installed and maintained to ensure stability. Even at low speeds, snow being pushed to the side by plows can push over mailboxes that are not properly installed or maintained.

In the event of damage to private property during snow removal efforts, the property owner shall file a claim with the City’s Legal Department: Call (913) 573-5060.

The claim will then be investigated to determine if any damage is the responsibility of the City.

Snow Crew & Driver Safety

Safety matters. Help keep yourself and the Snow Crew safe by remembering:

  • Stay back from plows by at least 6 car length
  • Do not pull directly behind slow plows. If you cannot see the driver, the driver cannot see you.
  • Plow trucks generally push snow to the passenger side of the truck (right side when looking from the rear). Never attempt to pass a truck on the right side since there can be much more snow on that side of the vehicle.
  • When cleaning driveways or parking lots, do not push snow into the street. This can cause hazardous conditions for other motorists.
  • Avoid building snow structures such as forts or igloos near the street that plows may cover over resulting in possible injury to children playing nearby.

How do I report service issues?

Is there a snow removal policy?

Yes. Public Works has a policy for snow and ice removal in Kansas City, Kansas: Snow & Ice Control Policies & Procedures.