O'Fallon Progress

When snow arrives, city’s priority is keeping roads clear for emergency service providers

City of O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham
City of O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham

With cold and wintry weather just around the corner, this week’s column is devoted to explaining the city’s snow and ice removal procedures as well as providing a few safety tips to follow when driving in winter weather. By following these simple safety tips, O’Fallon residents will arrive at their holiday destinations safe and sound.

The goal of the City of O’Fallon Public Works Department is to provide snow and ice control in a timely and cost-efficient manner. During ice or snow conditions, the Public Works Department’s Operations Group applies de-icer and plows snow. There are two phases for ice control and snow plowing: (1) when snow or ice conditions exist, salt is applied to the pavement based on public safety needs; and (2) depending on the pavement conditions and forecast, snow plowing will commence when two to four inches of snow accumulates. It is our standard practice to avoid salting roads in newer subdivisions or recently re-constructed roads as repeated salting of new concrete leads to rapid deterioration of that material.

Conditions such as blowing snow, continual freezing rain, snowfall accumulation, or the need to assist with high priority state and township roadways vary for each snow and ice event. Accordingly, some streets or classes of streets may not be treated, such as cul-de-sacs or low volume through streets. In some cases, Public Works’ crews may only focus on a subset of priority areas such as known problem spots or major intersections on snow routes. Snow and ice removal goals are set primarily to afford public safety crews the ability to provide emergency services. General travel, commerce, and individual convenience issues take a lower priority. An ongoing assessment is made during snow and ice removal operations regarding when to discontinue removal operations and operations may be curtailed based upon weather forecast or other factors prior to treating every location within a priority group.

The O’Fallon snow route map can be viewed at http://ofallon.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=4c4596f91e81427eb85ddb96dcfed299.

Priority rankings are as follows:

▪  Emergency vehicle access to designated “Snow Routes”

▪  “Snow Emergency Routes” as adopted by the City Council

▪  Roadway surfaces serving city, township, county, state and federal facilities

▪  Roadway surfaces serving schools

▪  Major intersections

▪  Secondary arterial connectors

▪  Subdivision through streets

▪  Cul-de-sacs

Residents can help our Public Works crews clear the streets more quickly by practicing a few simple suggestions:

▪  Don’t drive if you don’t have to.

▪  Drive safely and have appropriate tires on your vehicle. Do not drive until you have properly cleared windows of obstructions, and replaced worn windshield wipers.

▪  Park your car off-street whenever you can. During snowfall or when snow is predicted, it is especially important to remove all vehicles from the street to allow the operation of snow removal equipment. If you live on a “Snow Emergency Route” you are not allowed to park your vehicle on the street during a snow storm.

▪  Make sure that basketball goals and other obstructions such as trash cans are not placed in or adjacent to the street. They pose a hazard to snow plowing crews and to the traveling public.

▪  Do not push or place snow in front of a neighbor’s property or on top of storm drains.

▪  Do not plow snow into travel lanes or leave snow on sidewalks or in street gutters. Keep your street gutter clean for drainage; don’t cause ponding of snow melt that can turn into ice.

▪  Clean snow from around fire hydrants and be careful you do not block the hydrants when you shovel snow.

▪  Owners of private parking lots are responsible for removing their own snow. Do not expect city crews to pick up piles of snow pushed onto the street from private parking lots. The snow pile could remain for an extended period causing potential safety hazards and the possibility of liability for the property owner.

▪  Property owners are responsible for clearing their driveway approaches and around mailboxes. Snow plowing operations may inconvenience property owners when snow is plowed in front of driveways or by mailboxes. However, we cannot respond to requests to clear driveways or mailboxes — our priority is keeping roads open for emergency service providers. However, residents with medical conditions should notify City Hall if they need any emergency assistance.

▪  Be patient; snow removal takes time. It is possible that not every street in the city will get plowed.

To keep your loved ones and others safe on the road during this holiday season, the O’Fallon Police Department, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and IDOT recommends that you remember the three P’s:

▪  Prepare for the trip: Before departing on your trip, thoroughly check your vehicle to make sure that it’s in proper working order. Is there good tread on your tires? Is your battery in good shape? Do you have plenty of no-freeze washer fluid and antifreeze?

You should also make sure that your vehicle contains the following items that are useful in an emergency: a cell phone, a flashlight, jumper cables, a shovel, road flares, blankets, kitty litter or sand, and a snow scraper.

Thoroughly plan your route by familiarizing yourself with maps and directions. You should also check weather reports and inform others of your route and expected arrival time. For specific road conditions in Illinois and surrounding states, go to https://apps.dot.illinois.gov/winterroadconditions/pages/wrc.htm or call 800-452-4368.

If you are stopped or stalled, stay with your car, don’t over exert yourself, place a bright marker on the antenna, and run your car just long enough to remove the chill.

▪  Protect yourself and your loved ones: everyone in the vehicle should buckle up, and proper child safety restraints should be utilized. The safest place for all children under 12 years of age is in the back seat of the vehicle. Never place a rear-facing child safety seat in front of an air-bag.

▪  Prevent crashes: crashes are easy to prevent if you follow simple safety tips. Slow down and increase your following distance, keep an eye open for pedestrians, get plenty of rest to avoid fatigue, and stop every three hours to rotate drivers.

The safety of our residents and their loved ones is very important to me and by working together we can make sure that everyone remains safe and sound during the holiday season. The strong working relationship between City Hall and the residents we serve is yet another example of why O’Fallon is such a great community in which to live.