Snow & Ice Procedures
The objective at the Town of South Hadley Department of Public Works (DPW) is to remove snow and ice from the roadways as safely, quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible, to restore normal traffic conditions and services to the residents of South Hadley. It is our goal to obtain bare and dry pavement conditions at the earliest practical time following the conclusion of a winter storm. This policy is used as a guideline to assist management in making well-informed, judgmental decisions in a consistent manner for each event requiring snow and ice removal.
The Division of Highways and Maintenance is responsible for removing snow and ice from approximately 100 miles of Town roadways. Additionally, we maintain all Town-owned parking lots (Town Hall, Police Station, Firehouse Museum), school parking lots and playgrounds, and library lots and walkways. We also maintain Town sidewalks in areas designated by the Selectboard, to provide a safe way for the elderly, school children and pedestrians utilizing the business districts in Town.
The Department of Public Works building, located at 10 Industrial Drive, is the headquarters for snow and ice removal operations. The phone number is 538-5033 or 538-5034, which has hours of operation from 8:00 am through 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. After hours or on weekends/holidays, the DPW employs an answering service, 24 hours a day. This service has direct contact with the Highway Superintendent for all emergencies.
In early fall, the DPW begins preparing for the coming Winter weather season. These preparations include:
- Reviewing, revising, advertising, then bidding for Winter contracts for plow trucks with operators, winter sand, salt, and de-icing chemicals. This is done through local advertising and county bid procurements.
- Inspection and repair of all trucks, sanders, plows, de-icing chemical tanks/systems, and winter vehicles by the Town mechanic and employees.
- Policies and procedures are reviewed and revised by DPW management.
- Highway Division and Parks Division have a pre-season meeting to go over routes, street changes, plowing assignments during the month of November.
The DPW Highway Division trucks used for winter maintenance operations are:
- Unit 1—2008 Ford F250 P/U w/8-foot plow
- Unit 3—2000 F350 Utility truck w/9-foot plow
- Unit 4—2006 F550 dump truck w/9-foot plow
- Unit 5—1995 Chevy Flatbed w/ 3 to 5 yard Sander w/10-foot plow
- Unit 6—2013 F350 dump truck w/8.5-foot plow
- Unit 7—1997 F350 dump truck w/8.5-foot plow
- Unit 8—2013 International six-wheeler w/sander w/11-foot plow
- Unit 10—1997 International six-wheeler w/sander w/11-foot plow
- Unit 11—John Deere 410 Backhoe Loader
- Unit 12—1991 CAT 910 loader w/ 10-foot plow
- Unit 14—2000 F750 six-wheeler w/sander w/11-foot plow
- Unit 15—200 Holder sidewalk plow/blower
- Unit 18—Bombardier sidewalk plow
- Unit 21—966 CAT loader w/11-foot plow
- Unit 38—2008 Freightliner 6-wheel dump w/sander w/11-foot plow
- Unit 39—2007 Freightliner 10 wheel dump w/sander w/11'plow
- Unit 40—1991 Case Backhoe Loader
- Bobcat sidewalk plow/blower
Salting / Sanding / De-icing
Once a storm begins, sanders are called out when:
- The Police Department requests sanders due to icy road conditions
- The DPW Highway Superintendent requests them: based on weather forecasts for inclement weather
- The DPW receives emergency requests from residents and acts on the request (during working hours only).
The Town is divided into 5 sanding routes. The hills and mains are sanded during every storm. Residential streets, that are not hills and mains, are sanded when:
- There is a major ice storm
- Road conditions and forecasts call for icing/glazing of all Town roads
Operators on a route determine priorities for that route and only deviate from that order when:
- The Police Department (PD) requests sand due to an accident;
- The ambulance service requests sand in an emergency;
- The Fire Department needs sand for an emergency;
- The DPW Dispatcher (Highway Superintendent - 913) determines it necessary.
Overtime Sanding Calls
When responding to a call for sand from the PD, the foreman, or acting foreman notifies the PD when the sanding operations begin and asks for their priorities. At the initial PD phone call, DPW will inform the PD as to what anti-icing chemicals have been applied and when.
- If sand is requested for the Town, only hills and mains are sanded. After the hills and mains are sanded, the person in charge notifies the PD and asks if there are any additional specific localized requests.
- If the PD reports only specific requests and does not request a town-wide response, these requests are referred to the foreman or acting foreman for verification, then dealt with by the first operator on call and his/her partner. The PD is then informed of completion and notified when the sanding application has been terminated.
- The answering service is typically the point of initial contact and acts at the request of the PD. If, however, the answering service requests sanding on behalf of a citizen, the call is then referred to the Highway Superintendent before responding to the call.
- The mechanic will be called in when more than one sander is dispatched.
Ice ban or other de-icing agents are used when:
- Needed due to temperature, traffic volume, and ambient moisture and/or
- As requested by Highway Superintendent
- The normal mixture of sand and 100% salt; a 50% sand/50% salt mixture is available, if needed; de-icing liquid is available if needed. A change may be required from time to time, but only by someone in management authorized to do so.
Plowing procedures depend on the type and length of the storm, and the conditions expected after the storm. Generally, plowing commences when there are 3 inches (3") of snow on the ground and more is expected. However, plows may be called out later depending on various factors such as when rain or freezing rain is expected to follow. Each and every storm is different, and our main objective is to get the roads safe and clear of snow / ice as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Each truck in the Highway Division is assigned a route number. The Town is divided into 11 routes. The main streets are plowed by DPW's larger trucks and comprise 2 of the routes. Each driver is assigned to a truck and expected to plow the route assigned to that truck.
- When a Highway Division driver is assigned to a route with a private contractor, the Highway driver is in charge and is responsible for the quality of the plowing.
- When 2 private contractors are teamed together on a route, the one who has seniority is considered the leader and holds responsibility for the quality of plowing that route.
Once it has been determined that the Town should be plowed, the Highway Superintendent calls in the private contractors. This is typically done in order to give the contractors at least one (1) hour to ready their vehicles. If the Highway Division drivers are not already available, they will also be called.
The responsible driver for that route will determine in which order the roads will be plowed, keeping in mind the hills, mains, etc.. If the police or other responsible persons have an emergency, they are to notify the Highway Superintendent (unless after hours where the driver is directly contacted), who will notify the responsible driver and give that emergency top priority.
During a storm, the plow team typically "opens up" all the streets first, then contends with pushing back corners and intersections as the storm end is in sight. When the storm is of short duration, the corners may be pushed back at the time the roads are opened. This is also true for very long storms because the accumulation may be too substantial to push back by the end of the storm.
- Contractors are paid per hour based on larger trucks getting higher rates of pay. Contractors are solicited via newspaper advertisement and asked to submit a written letter of interest in plowing for the town.
- Each truck to be used during that season must be inspected prior to being accepted.
- The truck shown and inspected must be the truck used by the contractor for the entire
- Season, unless given special permission from the Highway Superintendent or other persons in management.
- The private contractor must provide:
- A verified copy of his/her insurance;
- A Certificate of Insurance, naming the Town of South Hadley as Certificate Holder, and must carry at least the minimum liability coverage recommended by the contract specifications.
- A valid registration;
- A phone number where s/he may be reached at all times;
- A valid driver's license; and
- A current State of Massachusetts Inspection Sticker.
- A cell phone number which is available for contact during plowing operations
- Contractor notice is publicized in the local newspapers and in the Town Reminder stating the dates for the work and the requirement for a pre-winter vehicle inspection. It is up to the contractor to watch for these notices. The Town will not notify potential contractors directly.
A parking ban will be called when there is a forecast of accumulating snow/ice. It will also be used during snow removal operations.
Town-wide Winter Parking Ban
Parking is allowed on the even numbered side of streets on even numbered days and on the odd numbered side of streets on odd numbered days. There is No Parking allowed on either side of the following streets: Route 116, Lamb Street, Main Street, Bridge Street, Bardwell Street, and Lower North Main Street. Residents residing on these streets are asked to utilize the Town parking lot across from the Egg and I Restaurant, as well as side/secondary streets nearby, observing the odd/even restrictions
The Selectboard has approved a list of sidewalks which the Town will maintain during snow/ice events. This list is to be reviewed and approved annually, and adjusted as necessary. A list of these sidewalks is kept in both machines used in plowing sidewalks (see attached list). Sidewalk plowing will be scheduled within 24 hours after the storm has passed. Additions and deletions to the list of plowed sidewalks can only be made per order of the Selectboard. The sidewalks are plowed as soon as possible at the end of the storm. Residents are responsible for clearing their own driveways, etc. after the plows have passed. Any damage caused by sidewalk plows is dealt with by the DPW A.S.A.P. (usually in the Spring for items such as turf damage).
Sand & Salt & De-icing Agents
Sand and salt used for winter operations is procured by a bid system each Fall. South Hadley participates in the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, for procurement pricing. Winter sand and supplies are ordered by the Highway Superintendent as needed. Sand and salt are mixed on a 1 sand to 1 salt basis and may be altered, as deemed necessary. The winter mix is stored in a covered shelter and is not allowed to remain uncovered, whenever possible.
Two storage tanks are provided for liquid de-icing agents, such as calcium chloride and Ice Ban. These tanks are filled as needed. All of the sanders have been fitted with liquid de-icing chemical storage tanks. Responsibility for adequate supply lies with the Highway Superintendent.
All resident complaints are to be verified by the Highway Superintendent. Emergency requests are dealt with when verified, and all others are dealt with when the regular plowing procedure is finished. All drivers shall be courteous to residents and will treat all complaints with respect. If a complaint is given to a plow driver, s/he will report it to the Highway Superintendent by radio immediately so it can be checked out.
Damage to Private Property
It should be noted that the municipality is not held responsible for damage to private property located within the public right of way. The right of way (ROW) is often up to 50 feet wide, and is often confused by property owners as their own property. In most cases, the ROW extends 10 to 15 feet beyond the edge of the paved or gravel road. Most owners maintain this area, place mailboxes, fences or walls, and basketball hoops in these areas, which improve the appearance of the street, but are obstructive to good maintenance from being conducted on the roadway.
The snow windrow must be pushed back as far as possible for many reasons, such as:
- Traffic safety
- Future snow being plowed
- Opening of storm drains and curb lines for proper drainage of melting snow
- To allow for maximum visibility for drivers from all roads
Mailboxes or basketball structures located within ROW limits exist by sufferance only, with the responsibility assumed by the homeowner. It is not possible for the town to replace or repair any type of structure erected by an abutting land owner within the right of way that has been damaged as a result of highway maintenance or construction work. In the event of personal property damage, The Town of South Hadley will only be responsible to repair or replace damaged property having been in actual contact with the snow removal equipment that is on private property, and not within the public right of way.
After the Storm
Before your final driveway cleanup, please check the street. If it is clean and opened up to its full width, then you should be OK. If not, be assured that the plow truck will be back to fill in your driveway. This is not intentional, or personal. Like water, moving snow will follow the path of least resistance which, unfortunately, will be your driveway. Please understand that neither the Town, nor its hired contractors, can come back to plow or shovel out your driveway.
If there is a catch basin in front of or near your house, any assistance to keep it clear and open is greatly appreciated.
Lastly, please be patient. Snow removal is a very arduous and time consuming task. Your DPW workers and hired contractors do not get a shift change. They, generally work around the clock until the job is done. We strive to provide for the safest roadways at a reasonable cost, and in the shortest period of time. The cooperation of the residents and businesses of South Hadley is greatly appreciated.
After each storm, the Highway Superintendent will complete a storm report which will be submitted to the DPW Superintendent. This report will include: weather forecast, response taken to event, material costs (sand / salt / de-icing agent), DPW overtime cost, private contractor cost, Parks Division Cost (overtime and materials).
The DPW will place, and re-stock sand barrels at the following locations:
- Fire District Number 1 Fire Station (hill on left side of building)
- Upper River River Road at San Souci spur intersection
- Cordes Court and North Main Street
- Camp Perkins Road
- Edgewater Lane at the end of dirt road
New Responsibilities Beginning November 15, 2007
With the completion of the Center Common Project, the Town has assumed all maintenance responsibilities associated with the scope of this project. This includes snow and ice removal on Route 116 from approximately Morgan Street to just south of Dickinson Farm Road (which had previously been under Massachusetts Highway jurisdiction), parking area plowing in newly designated areas along Route 116 and Park Street, as well as sidewalk plowing and snow removal associated within the new construction area, including the Town Common. The roadway plowing and ice control will need to be consistent with Massachusetts Highway standards, which is a "black roads policy", ensuring dry road conditions as soon as possible after the end of a storm. These added responsibilities come to the Town with no new employee hires, and much additional labor and expense responsibilities. Snow removal (or limited parking spaces on the Common side) will need to be addressed after most storms, in this new area of to ensure safe walkways and roadways, as well as provide access for emergency vehicles, especially now that the roadway in front of the Village Common Shops, and associated sidewalks has changed plowing options in this area. The location of sidewalks and associated handicapped ramps, at or near the post office, adjacent to the curbing, will also require snow removal to maintain full road width and ensure parking close to the curbing and access for vehicles in the road and pedestrians on the sidewalks.