Plowing and Treatment of Denver’s Main Streets
DOTI provides snow response services to approximately 2,050 lane miles of main streets, or most streets with stripes, utilizing a fleet of 70 large plows, and plows around schools to provide safe zones for school children.
Denver uses liquid and solid deicers on its main streets as part of its snow response. The solid deicer, called Ice Slicer, is a naturally-mined product from Utah that is more than 90-percent chloride salts. Its red color comes from 60 trace minerals also naturally found in the deicer. The product helps prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement and can serve to provide some traction on the roadways during snow events.
In the downtown area, Denver uses a liquid deicer called liquid magnesium chloride. The liquid is used downtown instead of a dry material to reduce levels of particulate matter in the air and support the city’s air quality efforts.
Denver may apply liquid deicer to main streets before a storm to try to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement. This practice of anti-icing the roads, sometimes referred to as “pre-treating,” is rare in Denver, as weather conditions and pavement temperatures have to be just right for pre-treating to be effective. Pre-treated roads also need to dry before temperatures drop below freezing or icing could occur.
Plowing of Denver’s Residential Streets
Denver’s Residential Snow Plow Program was created during the blizzards of 2006-07 to keep residential streets, or side streets, passable. The program covers about 1,260 center lane miles of residential streets, utilizing a fleet of 4x4 pickup trucks with plows.
Denver previously deployed the residential plows only in emergency situations and larger storm events. Beginning in the 2017/18 season, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) received additional staff members that it could dedicate to the residential plow program.
When a storm requires full deployment of Denver’s fleet of large plows, the residential plows will also deploy when enough snow has fallen and they can be helpful in clearing a path for motorists to get to the main streets. The small trucks do not carry de-icing materials.
What to Expect:
- Plowing of the residential streets will occur between the hours of 3:00 am and 3:00 pm.
- When deployed, the residential plows will take one pass down the center of every side street to prevent deep ice rutting and to keep the streets passable.
- The residential plows shave off the top few inches of snow pack and will not expose bare pavement.
- The residential areas will not receive de-icing materials.
- 4x4 pickup trucks with plows from DOTI and Denver Parks & Recreation
- On-Street Bike Lanes: Most of Denver's on-street bicycle lanes are located on roadways with stripes; these are the streets that are routinely plowed every time snow accumulates. Crews will make every effort to plow through the bike lane to the curb whenever possible; however, during swift, heavy snowfalls, bike lanes may become snow packed. These snowy/icy conditions may linger in the bike lane several days after a storm depending on temperatures, particularly in shady locations. Call 311 or use Pocketgov to report problem areas.
- Throughout the winter season, people on bikes should be prepared to ride in a shared lane condition, utilizing the outermost lane available and may consider alternate transportation options based on health, ability, weather conditions and equipment. People on bikes may need to consider alternate routes and utilize the city’s trail system. People are also encouraged to winterize their bikes and have the right tires for navigating winter conditions.
- Protected Bikeways: DOTI plows the city’s protected bikeways and many pedestrian bridges. Denver uses a smaller plow for the protected bikeways that has a broom attached, as well as a material spreader that can drop liquid deicing material as appropriate, based on weather conditions. Our snow program aims to address each protected bikeway at least once per 12 hour shift, if there are no obstacles, such as vehicles parked in the bike lane. If there is a lot of snow to push, it will take longer to complete snow removal operations on the protected bike lanes.
- Off-Street Bike Trails: Denver Parks and Recreation maintains the City’s network of off-street bicycle and multi-use trails. Any snow accumulation on a trail greater than one inch will be plowed to the channel side (or down slope side) within 12 hours after the end of a snow fall event. Snow that can’t be accessed by machine will be removed manually. Ice accumulation on the trail will be treated with gravel and/or environmentally safe chemical products.
City Owned Property
Denver Parks & Recreation performs snow removal on park property and select sidewalks, such as bridges and underpasses within the City. During normal snowfall, the snow will be removed as usual, including around recreation centers. Recreation Centers will also be plowed and shoveled for Saturday and Sunday hours as needed.
When Plowing Operations Result in Snow on Sidewalks
While pushing snow onto sidewalks by our plows doesn’t happen very often, we are truly sorry when it does. We all know how critical it is that our streets are cleared of snow for safety and accessibility purposes, and that is the top priority of Denver’s heavy snow plows. Pushing snow onto sidewalks and driveways is an unfortunate consequence of plowing any street. We ask drivers to be conscientious and provide our drivers with continual feedback on their performance and ways to minimize the occurrence of snow on sidewalks.