Friday, December 04, 2009


"Snow is falling, snow on snow . . ."
(Christina Rosetti)

Today's Daily Herald announced a welcome piece of news, very welcome in light of the week's snow forecast: American Fork has new snow removal equipment. Quoting from the article:

"We bought more snowplow blades for one- and two-ton trucks," said Director of Public Works Howard Denney. "Some are for the parks, several more for the streets department. We will have those available to work on cul-de-sacs and other areas."
Mayor Thompson explained further:

"We've decided to use some of our existing equipment that we use for regular public works projects, like backhoes and front end loaders," he said. "They are not designed particularly for snow removal, but are still very capable for areas that we can't get in with big trucks. I think that's an example of how we're making the best use of our current resources."
This is good news, an appropriate response in a tight budget year to the challenges of 2008, when snowfalls came so hard and fast that City crews working continuously could keep only the major arteries open, when one of the City's snow plows went out of commission, and when too many residential streets and cul-de-sacs froze before they could be plowed.

As 2009 descends to its wintry close, here are a few facts to keep in mind about the City's snow removal policy.

  • It is NOT City policy to plow every street. Streets are plowed in order of precedence: Arterials first, then collectors, then as many residential streets and cul-de-sacs as can be done before the snow freezes.
  • It is a violation of City ordinance to park any vehicle on any street or cul-de-sac from November 1 to March 31 between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and ANY TIME THERE IS SNOW IN THE STREET.
  • The City's insurance company generally does not pay for damage incurred to vehicles due to icy roads or piled snow. Let the driver beware.

If you think we have it bad in American Fork, be glad we don't live farther north. Quoting from the April 2008 edition of Better Roads:

Large cities such as Montreal or Ottawa spend huge snow-removal budgets. Montreal, for instance, gets nearly 100 inches of snow in an average year and spends more than $128-million Canadian dollars to take care of it.

Toronto's budget exceeds $5 million a year.

The whole of Canada spends more than a billion dollars a year on snow removal.

Individual storms rack up big bills. Ottawa spent $3 million in one day last December to remove almost 15 inches of snow that fell overnight.

Montreal spent $20 million cleaning up a 14-inch snow that covered the island. The city had about 44 inches of snow by the end of December 2007, with more on the way. . .

In cities with so much snow there is no place to put it, a snow-melting vehicle may be used. This scoops snow into a melting pot in a tank at the rear of the plow. A smaller tank of boiling water melts the snow, which is discharged into storm drains.

Other cities haul off the excess snow, dumping if ino an ocean or lake, if one is nearby.

I'm not sure which makes me grumpier, the snow itself (I'm too old and too cold to see the magic any more), or the cost of its removal. But after reading about Canada, I've decided to start counting blessings instead of snowflakes.

Residents may now read American Fork's parking and snow removal policy for themselves by following this link. (Kudos to City staff for making the municipal code the newest addition to the City Web site!)