More than you ever wanted to know about snow clearing in Saskatoon
Over the weekend, Saskatoon received almost 25 cm of snow, roughly one-third of all of the snow this entire winter. With this recent blast of winter there has been a lot of attention on snow clearing in the City of Saskatoon, and this post is meant to answer a few of the questions that you might have about this (or at least to give you enough information on snow clearing that you can impress your friends).
The breakdown on snow fall in Saskatoon
- In 2018, Saskatoon budgeted for 90cm of snow with a total snow and ice operating budget of $12.7 million. It’s tricky to budget for this, because a longer winter or a couple extra snow storms can make a huge difference in costs. It is typical for 60% of the annual budget to be spent from January to April, with the remaining budget spent in the following fall.
- In the 2016/17 winter, there was about 130cm of snow. Because of cost savings such as new, more efficient ways of plowing Circle Drive, the impact on the reserves was not that significant.
- In Saskatoon, a full snow event is any time that 5cm or more of snow falls and accumulates on roadways. When this happens, City crews come out in full force with all equipment on the roads and all contractors called. For those of you keeping track at home, this means that roughly 70 different pieces of equipment are out on the streets, such as graders, plows, sanders, loaders and sidewalk plows.
- The City budgets for five snow events per year, and the daily cost of managing after a snow event is between $500,000 and $750,000. This is a significant amount of money, but we’ve found that it can be the best way of creating safer driving conditions more quickly. When there is less than 5cm of snow there will still be plowing and grading, but the maximum capacity is not used because the effect on driving is not as large.
- When a snow event starts, plows go onto Circle Drive to clear the driving lanes. After a snow event, crews get to work to clear:
- Priority 1 streets within 12 hours: Driving lanes for all freeways, high-traffic streets and access to emergency facilities
- Priority 2 streets within 36 hours: Grading on medium-use streets and transit routes
- Priority 3 streets within 72 hours: Driving lanes for all Business Improvement Districts, school zones and various other roads throughout neighbourhoods
With the latest snow event on the weekend, 70% of the entire priority network was graded or plowed within 24 hours. You can see what roads have been cleared and what remains outstanding on the City’s snow grading map.
When driving, please remember to watch out for blue and amber flashing lights on winter road maintenance equipment. If you encounter equipment on the road, slow down, stay at least 15 metres behind and be ready to stop.
A huge thank you to all of the City of Saskatoon employees who do this work—often throughout the night and early in the morning—to help the rest of us get around safely.
More information on winter road maintenance can be found at saskatoon.ca/snow (a website with far, far more than you would ever want to know about snow clearing in Saskatoon).