Snow Plowing info for City of Columbus

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February 11, 2014
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February 26, 2014
City of Columbus Snow Warriors are treating and plowing arterial streets and collector streets today and will continue to do so.  A total of 38 City of Columbus trucks are on the road.


                  City of Columbus Snow Warriors Fact Sheet:  Winter of 2013-14

                            Quick Facts About The City of Columbus’ Snow Plan

                                                 and Related Snow Information


Snow Warrior Updates

¨       The Department of Public Service will provide updates of the Snow Warriors work through the department’s Facebook site at and Twitter account at


How Columbus Plows Snow

¨       Streets, including residential streets, are plowed in a systematic manner

  • At the beginning of each shift, each driver is given a stack of maps
  • The driver plows and treats streets one map area at a time, then returns to the maintenance yard to get a fresh set of maps and works until his or her shift is completed


¨       Every winter storm is different, so strategy in responding to a specific storm may vary from that of another storm.  And because winter storm is different, the time needed to plow and treat streets will vary.

  • Long, uninterrupted snow falls require freeways, arterial and collector streets to be plowed and/or treated repeatedly until the snow stops.  These long, uninterrupted snowfalls that drop more than four inches of snow will affect how soon the Snow Warriors can begin to plow residential streets
  • Colder temperatures, wind, and cloudy conditions after a storm can lengthen the time it takes to treat and plow streets
  • Wet, heavy snow also often increases the time needed to plow and treat streets


Columbus Snow Warriors Have A Big Job

¨       Columbus’ Snow Warriors are responsible for 6,387 lane miles of roadway, more than Cleveland and Cincinnati combined (or 2,066 linear miles, approximately the distance between Columbus and Las Vegas)

  • Cleveland:  3,000 lane miles
  • Cincinnati:  2,986 lane miles
  • Toledo:  2,700 lane miles
  • Dayton:  1,600 lane miles
  • Dublin:  502 lane miles
  • Westerville:  409 lane miles
  • Reynoldsburg:  270 lane miles
  • Worthington:  176 lane miles
  • Gahanna:  140 lane miles


¨       Included in Columbus’ 6,387 lane miles of roadway are:

  • 372 lane miles on the parts of State Routes 33, 104 and 315 for which the City of Columbus is responsible
  • 3,308 lane miles of arterial streets, which are more than all of the lane miles in either Cleveland or Cincinnati
  • 1,053 lane miles of collector streets, which are more than all the lane miles in Dublin, Ohio, and Westerville combined
  • 1,654 lane miles of residential streets, which are more than all the lane miles in the City of Dayton

¨       Columbus’ Snow Warriors are responsible for 227 square miles, much more than their counterparts in other Ohio cities:

  • Cleveland:  82 square miles
  • Toledo:  80 square miles
  • Cincinnati:  79 square miles
  • Dayton:  57 square miles


¨       Columbus’ Snow Warriors are responsible for a larger area in square miles than their counterparts in some other major U.S. cities:

  • Denver:  153 square miles
  • Detroit:  139 square miles
  • Philadelphia:  134 square miles
  • Portland, Oregon:  133 square miles
  • Milwaukee:  96 square miles
  • Baltimore:  81 square miles
  • St. Louis:  62 square miles
  • Washington, D.C.:  61 square miles
  • Pittsburgh:  55 square miles
  • Boston:  48 square miles


¨       Plow crews in Columbus’ suburban communities are able to plow their residential streets sooner than Columbus because their cities are much smaller.  In fact, Columbus’ 227 square miles is more than double the combined square miles of all the suburban communities listed below:

  • Dublin:  26 square miles
  • Grove City:  16.2 square miles
  • Gahanna:  12 square miles
  • Reynoldsburg:  12 square miles
  • Hilliard:  11.5 square miles
  • Upper Arlington:  9.67 square miles
  • Pickerington:  9.58 square miles
  • Worthington:  5 square miles
  • Bexley:  2.5 square miles


Tracking What Streets Have Been Plowed

¨       All Snow Warriors’ trucks are equipped with the GPS/AVL Warrior Watch system, which is an upgrade from the former COMBAT (Central Ohio Management Based Applied Technology) GPS system used 2009-2012

  • The new GPS/AVL Warrior Watch is on all snow plow trucks, including dump trucks, one-ton pickups and anti-icers
  • Allows the City to track locations of trucks in real time; the GPS/AVL Warrior Watch reports the locations of trucks every 15 seconds
  • Can track work trucks are doing (plow is up or down; salting or not)
  • Helps the City be more efficient and effective in plowing and treating streets

¨       The new GPS/AVL Warrior Watch system provides a record of streets that have been plowed

  • City also can verify whether a street has been plowed by checking maps that have been completed by plow truck drivers.  The drivers check off streets on their maps as they plow the streets assigned to them.


Resources:  Trucks, Personnel and Supplies

¨       Tons of salt used/cost/per ton this winter and in past winters

  • 2013-14:  6,708 tons on hand as of 2/7/14 ($48.69 per ton.  NOTE:  Prior to the winter of 2010-11, the City joined an ODOT-led consortium, which helped lower the price of salt)
  • 2012-13:  21,987 tons ($1.1 million total/$50.92 per ton)
  • 2011-12:  5,681 tons ($332,225 total/$58.48 per ton)
  • 2010-11: 31,722 tons ($1.9 million total/$59.98 per ton)
  • 2009-10: 31,455 tons ($2 million total/$63.34 per ton)
  • 2008-09: 26,109 tons ($1.4 million total/$54 per ton)
  • 2007-08: 37,957 tons ($1.81 million total/$47.58 per ton)
  • 2006-07: 22,901 tons ($955,201 total/$41.71 per ton)
  • 2005-06: 11,346 tons ($464,619/$40.95 per ton)


¨       Number of drivers, plus those cross-trained

  • 2013-14: 114 Equipment Operators (plus 146 cross-trained)
  • 2012-13: 111 Equipment Operators (plus 90 cross-trained)
  • 2011-12: 113 Equipment Operators (plus 73 cross-trained)
  • 2010-11: 112 Equipment Operators (plus 35 cross-trained)
  • 2009-10: 112 Equipment Operators (plus 33 cross-trained)
  • 2008-09: 118 Equipment Operators (plus 27 cross-trained)
  • 2007-08: 122 Equipment Operators (plus 17 cross-trained)
  • 2006-07: 121 Equipment Operators (plus 5 cross-trained)


¨       The City has five outposts from which City of Columbus snow plow trucks are deployed


¨       Columbus’ Snow Warriors use different treatments for streets depending on the conditions

  • Salt, Calcium Chloride:  Melts snow and ice under most conditions. Applied to road with highest traffic volumes and highest speeds during and after snow falls.  Salt loses its effectiveness below 20 degrees, especially on lightly-traveled streets.
  • Brine (a mix of salt and water):  Pavement is pre-treated with brine prior to a storm.  Brine helps prevent snow and ice from bonding to pavement.
  • ICEBITE (Beet Juice): blended with Brine or Calcium Chloride depending on the applicable situation


Residents and Businesses Have Roles, Too:  Shoveling sidewalks and driveways

¨       Shovel your sidewalk:  Under City Code, property owners are responsible for clearing snow and ice off sidewalks that abut their properties or are on their properties.  This applies to both residences and businesses (City Code Section 902.03)

¨       When shoveling your driveway, do not shovel or push snow into the street or onto a sidewalk.  City Code prohibits shoveling snow into the street or onto a sidewalk (City Code Section 902.03).  Pile snow in a yard or another spot away from a sidewalk, driveway or steps.

¨       Apply salt, sand or cat litter to icy steps and paths


More Ways Residents Can Help

¨       Drive with extra care and leave additional distance between you and the vehicle in front of you

¨       Maintain a distance of no less than 100 feet behind a snow plow truck

¨       Avoid passing snow plow trucks because the drivers cannot always see a smaller car about to pass

¨       Follow snow emergency laws when a snow emergency is declared

¨       When possible, park vehicles in driveways or parking lots and off streets to give plow trucks room to plow

¨       Check on senior citizens, shut-ins and other neighbors with mobility impairments

¨       When the snow begins to melt, clear snow from in front of catch basins by shoveling the snow into storm sewers.  The heat of the storm sewer will melt the snow and allow other melting snow and ice to flow freely into storms sewers.


More Snow Warrior Facts

¨       As Columbus has more than 200,000 private driveways, moving plowed snow from private driveway aprons would add weeks to each plowing effort

  • City would have to purchase dozens of tractors at $75,000 each, which would add millions to the City budget to purchase and maintain


¨       Columbus Snow Warriors have other job responsibilities including, but not limited to:

  • Patching potholes
  • Street cleaning
  • Alley surfacing treatment
  • Mowing
  • Underpass cleaning
  • Graffiti removal


¨       Because our Snow Warriors need to be focused on doing the work to make streets safer while they are behind the wheel during and after snow storms, the City does not grant media and residents’ requests to do ride-alongs with Snow Warriors










50 West Gay Street

Columbus, OH 43215

Direct: 614.645-7263

Fax: 614.645-7805

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