Winter Storm Operations
The Town of Washington Highway Department understands that travel during winter storms can be difficult and trying for many motorists. New England is famous for its variety of weather conditions and they come in many different extremes.
The primary responsibility of maintaining a safe and assessable transportation network rests with the Town of Washington Highway Department. However, successful battles against the onslaught of winter also require the assistance and cooperation of all citizens. This Plan briefly describes how together we can minimize the impact of winter storms.
The Highway Department is responsible for almost 90 miles of road (24 miles of unimproved), Town-owned parking lots, a commuter lot and firehouses. The roads and parking lots are divided into ten separate routes. Our department begins sanding or “pre-treating” all ten routes simultaneously once snow, sleet or freezing rain begins to fall.
When two inches of snow have fallen and more is expected, the department moves into its snow plowing operation and begins “opening” roads for emergency vehicles and routine traffic with primary routes being of priority. We will continue with this procedure throughout the duration of the storm. However, at times when snowfall is significant, several inches may accumulate before a snow fighter gets a chance to “reopen” a roadway. Also, there may be times when operations are temporarily suspended because conditions are too dangerous, even for trucks equipped with chains, plows and sanders. Once the storm has abated, the town must begin to push back the snow to the curb line and cleanup intersections. Our crews are well trained and will remain on the job for the duration of the storm. Crews will continue to monitor all roads for icy spots and snow drifting across roadways. A salt or sand/salt mixture will be applied to assure all riding surfaces and braking areas remain drivable.
All snowplows angle the same way (to the driver’s right), and when plowing they will push the snow in front of a driveway. The property owners are responsible for access to their own driveway. The only way to avoid extra shoveling is to wait until the Highway Department crews have done their final cleanup on the road.
The Town of Washington prohibits snowplow contractors from plowing snow from driveways or parking lots onto town roads. This practice is dangerous and impedes the town’s snow removal efforts. If there is no other alternative to pushing snow onto the roadway, the plow driver must plow off the windrow or pile left on the road by re-plowing until the road is safe. This may not necessarily mean bare pavement, but should be no worse than when the driver began work. Causing hazardous roadway conditions is a violation of State and Local codes. Violators May be held liable and subject to fines.
Snow removal will be performed when snow has accumulated from past storms or after a storm has left hazardous conditions. This involves the loading and transporting of accumulated snow in the town parking lots and commercial areas affected by the town plows. Since a substantial commitment of resources and money is involved, the extent of removal will vary depending upon the amount of snow and weather forecasts. The town may also send crews to clear snow and ice from intersections and catch basins to ensure that sightlines and melting snow will have a place to run off. During the snow removal operations, the Police Department may impose a temporary parking ban in the removal areas.
Cleared sidewalks are important to the safety of all Washington citizens. According to Town Ordinance #1102, sidewalks are the responsibility of the adjacent property owners. The Town would appreciate that all walks be cleared within 24 hours after precipitation stops. Please do not throw snow into the roadway only to have it plowed back onto the walk during cleanup operations. Sand and/or salt should be applied as necessary.
Fire Hydrant Clearing
Our Fire Department stands ready to serve you during any emergency regardless of weather conditions. You can help by clearing the snow from the fire hydrant nearest your home or business and making sure that it is both visible and accessible. The Fire Department emphasizes the importance both to you and your neighbor of keeping the hydrants open and they extend their thanks for your assistance.
From November 1st through March 31st, parking is prohibited on all Washington streets, roads and parking lots from the hours of 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Temporary parking bans may be imposed during snow removal procedures as needed and described above.
The Town of Washington does not assume any responsibility for replacing mailboxes or posts that are within the town’s right-of-way unless they are physically hit by our equipment. Usually a paint mark or truck tire tracks supply evidence of a mailbox strike. The town will not repair or replace mailboxes and/or posts that fall from the force of plowed snow. Mailboxes and posts must be installed to withstand the rigors of snow plowing, including the force of snow and slush pushed from the street onto the roadside. The Town of Washington does not assume any responsibility for replacing mailboxes or posts that are within the town’s right of way unless they are physically hit by our equipment. Usually a paint mark or truck tire track supply evidence of a mailbox strike.
The town will not repair or replace mailboxes and/or posts that fall from the force of plowed snow. Mailboxes and posts must be installed to withstand the rigors of snow plowing, including the force of snow and slush pushed from the street onto the roadside.
Mailboxes should not extend out over the traveled portion of the road; or if the road is curbed, should not extend out past the curbing. When you install a curbside or roadside mailbox, make sure that it is easily accessible to the mail carrier. By regulation it should be 41” to 45” from the ground surface up to the inside floor of the mailbox. The door should be set back 6” to 8” from the front face of the curb or road edge. Mailboxes should not impede in anyway vehicular traffic or sightlines.
The Town repairs or replaces only mailboxes and/or posts that are actually struck by our equipment. If this should happen, the mailbox damage will be inspected by a representative of the Highway Department; and, if approved by the Highway Director and/or Board of Selectman, will be replaced by a standard mailbox and/or a standard 4x4 post.
If you have a legitimate claim, please call the Highway Department at 868-7986. Thank you.
Winter Driving Tips
We all know that winter weather can be stressful. Please remember that snow operation procedures take time, crews generally work long hours and do the best they possibly can to safely and quickly clear the roads for safe travel. Here are some helpful suggestions to make winter storms more tolerable for everyone:
* Clean snow and ice from your vehicle, especially windows and lights before you leave your driveway. This makes it possible for you to see and for others to see you.
* Take your time; allow extra time to reach your destination. Travel during winter conditions may take you at least twice the normal driving time. Plan accordingly and drive safely.
* If you need to call the Highway Department about a legitimate hazard, please do so at 868-7986. Calls may also be made to the Selectman’s Office at 868-2259 during normal workday hours.Thank you, and safe winter travels!