Top Ten Most-Asked Questions About Snow Removal

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1. Why hasn't my street been cleared?

The Public Works and Utilities (PWU) Department follows a very specific plan for each snow/ice removal event. The priorities are:

  1. Emergency snow routes
  2. Remaining arterial streets
  3. City bus routes.

The City's policy is to plow in other areas only after four or more inches of accumulation and only after the three priority routes above are cleared.

The City does not clear snow from alleys or driveways.

If a school is not on one of these priority routes, the streets around it would not be cleared until residential plowing begins. In severe storms, schools are routinely closed for safety reasons, however this is a decision made by the school or school district.

2. How do I know if there is a parking ban?

The City uses the following methods to inform the public of snow operations:

  • Local news media sources
  • The City website - lincoln.ne.gov
  • RSS feed/email alerts
  • Twitter - sign up at twitter.com/lincolnsnow. You do not need a Twitter account to receive SMS alerts - text "follow lincolnsnow" to 40404 (standard text messaging rates apply).
  • Time Warner Cable government access channels 5 and 10

Residents also may contact the Snow Center at 402-441-7644 to find out about parking bans.

If you know someone who does not speak English, contact the Citizen Information Center at 402-441-7831 for the current list of local agencies providing information in other languages.

3. Where can I park?

In a snow emergency, parking may be banned on both sides of emergency snow routes, arterial streets and City bus routes. Along non-arterial streets, bus routes are marked with signs.

When a snow emergency is declared, the Mayor may prohibit parking on both sides of the street in areas designated as snow removal districts. In these areas, the snow is plowed into windrows, loaded into trucks and hauled out of the area. Typically, snow removal occurs between midnight and 8 a.m. The districts include streets in the following areas:

During snow removal district parking bans, free downtown parking will be available from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. at Center Park Garage, 1100 "N" St. The customer will be charged for any time beyond the nine hours at the posted garage rate. If the vehicle remains in the facility past 10 a.m., the customer will be charged for the entire time the vehicle was in the facility.

A residential parking ban applies to streets that are not emergency snow routes, arterials or bus routes or included in a snow removal district. Parking is first banned on the even-numbered (north and east) sides of the street. Once the Mayor has terminated that ban, parking will be banned on the odd-numbered (south and west) sides of the street, and parking is again permitted on the even side.

All bans are in effect until terminated by the Mayor. Vehicles parked illegally during parking bans are subject to fines, towing and storage costs at the owners' expense.

The following lots and facilities are available for parking once they are cleared of snow:

Southeast

  • Antelope Park, North and South of Auld, Children's Zoo (Capitol Parkway and "A" Streets)
  • Eden Park (45th and Antelope Creek Rd.)
  • Holmes Lake Park roads and lots - north side only (70th and Normal)
  • Roberts Park (56th and Normal)
  • Tierra Park (27th and Tierra)

Southwest:

  • Peterson Park (4400 Southwood)
  • Van Dorn Park (9th and Van Dorn)

Northeast

  • Ballard Park (66th and Kearney)
  • Bethany Park - 3 lots (65th and Vine)
  • Easterday Recreation Center (6130 Adams)
  • Mahoney Golf Course lot (7900 Adams)
  • Peter Pan Park (32nd and "W")
  • Tyrell Park, north and south (67th and Baldwin)
  • University Place Park, north and 1/2 south lot (49th and Garland)
  • UPCO Park (40th and Adams)
  • Woods Park - 2 lots (33rd and "J")

Northwest

  • Air Park Recreation Center (3720 NW 46th)
  • Belmont Park and Recreation Center (12th and Judson)
  • Belmont Pool (1245 Manatt)
  • Highlands Golf Course (5501 NW 12th)
  • Oak Lake, east and west lots (1st and Charleston)
  • Oak Creek Dog Run (1st and Charleston)
  • Roper Park, east and west lots (10th and Belmont)

Citizens can also contact the nearest library or church to find out if any additional temporary parking facilities are available.

4. Cars are parked on both sides of my street, and I can't get my car through. What should I do?

Call 402-441-6000 to report a street blockage outside of the downtown area (402-441-PARK in downtown area). Vehicles parked in a way that does not allow other vehicles to pass may be ticketed for obstructing a public street at any time of the year. This situation is not only inconvenient, but could be a safety hazard if emergency vehicles are unable to reach their locations.

With heavy and prolonged snow, PWU is sometimes unable to clear the street to the curb because of the depth and volume of the snow. A vehicle should not be parked in a way that interferes with the use of the street.

5. How soon after a storm do I need to have my sidewalk cleared?

City ordinance requires property owners to clear snow and ice from sidewalks by 9 a.m. the day following the end of the snow storm. Sidewalks must be kept clear of snow and ice during the day. The entire width of the walk must be cleared, along with any adjoining wheelchair ramps or curb cuts. Residents also are asked to clear snow from any fire hydrants.

It is illegal to push or blow snow into or on any street, alley or sidewalk. The Lincoln Police Department enforces this ordinance, however they must witness the action as it is occurring in order to issue any enforcement.

If a property owner does not clear the walk and a complaint is received by the City sidewalk office, notice will be given to the owner. City ordinance requires written notice to be left on the front door or other conspicuous place on the property. If an unresolved problem is reported again, the City may hire a snow removal contractor, and the owner is responsible for the charges.

Questions can be directed to the PWU sidewalk office at 402-441-7541.

6. I'm unable to clear my sidewalk and driveway myself. What should I do?

Before the snow season arrives, arrange for a family member, neighbor or contractor to clear the snow for you.

The Public Works and Utilities Department's new Snow Angels program links volunteers willing to shovel snow with residents who need the service. Any individual or organization wishing to volunteer for snow removal as part of the Snow Angels program may sign up on the Snow Angels page. Residents in need of assistance may select an individual or organization by opening the map and clicking on a snowflake icon to view the contact information for a Snow Angel volunteer near their homes.

You may also call Volunteer Partners at 402-435-2100 for a referral to an appropriate agency.

7. What can I do if my mailbox is hit by a snow plow or if my sod or sprinklers are torn up?

The public right of way, including the area between the street and sidewalk, is owned by the City. Property owners are allowed to place objects, such as mailboxes, sprinkler systems, landscaping and driveways, in the public right of way.

Property owners are responsible for maintenance, replacement or any damages to the objects on City property caused by, but not limited to snow removal, streets sweeping or other City activities. Those with questions can contact the City Law Department at 402-441-7281.

8. Why do bike trails get cleared of snow before many streets?

The removal of snow from City bike trails is the responsibility of the Parks and Recreation Department, not PWU. Both bike trails and streets are an important part of the City's overall transportation network, and many people use the City's trail network all year.

9. Why did a truck go by with the blade up?

The City previously used separate sanders and plows, but the current fleet consists mainly of combination sander/plows. If two of these units are working in tandem, the first one plows and the second one may only be applying material with its blades up.

The sander/plows can travel much faster with their blades up. Operators may travel this way for several reasons:

  • The operator may be headed to a specific area or an accident or other incident where help is needed quickly.
  • The operators may be going back to the shop for fuel, repairs, and/or reloading of material. If they took the extra time to travel with blades down, the districts to which they are assigned would see a delay in their service.
  • The operator may be headed to the next assigned location, following plows that have already cleared the route.

If a resident has a question about a specific piece of equipment or location, they can contact the Snow Center at 402-441-7644.

10. What's that liquid stuff you are putting on the streets, and will it hurt my car?

PWU applies anti-icing materials to be proactive. The mixture of salt and water acts like a "Teflon coating" to help minimize frost build-up and the development of black ice on streets and bridges. This salt brine is not intended to keep the streets free from snow and ice. Its main function is to begin the melting process which helps minimize snow pack, making it easier for snow plows to peel the snow from the street.

Salt is a corrosive material, but the salt in the brine is not as concentrated as the rock salt applied to snow packed or icy streets. And using salt brine before the snow falls means less rock salt will be needed after the storm. In any case, it's a good idea to wash your vehicle on a regular basis during winter months.