Snow Guide

      City Of Coeur d'Alene
Snow and Ice Control Operations


As Old Man Winter bestows his wonderful, weary favors on Coeur d’Alene, it is useful to review policies and expectations concerning snow and ice control on area roadways.  The goal of the City’s snow plan is to establish a system of priorities that facilitate keeping winter traffic moving as safely as possible.  This summary of the City’s snow plan is to inform the public on strategies and procedures developed to meet this goal.  With over 265 center lane miles of streets in our City, not all roadways can be given immediate attention.  Accordingly, a prioritized system of roadway plowing has been established.  Also included in this snow plan summary are some tips on how best to deal with snow and ice more effectively.

Level of Service:

One of the primary objectives of the City’s Street Department is to provide a plan for the safe and orderly movement of emergency equipment, vehicle traffic, and pedestrians through the City.  A snow plan has been developed that is updated each year to facilitate this objective as it relates to street maintenance during adverse weather conditions.  The procedures presented in this plan serve to outline the manner in which Street Department crews manage the challenge of snow control.
Our snow-fighting challenge is a big one.  The City Of Coeur d'Alene’s average snowfall is 69.8 inches per year.  This is more than double that of neighboring Spokane!  The City’s street system has grown from 140 miles of streets in 1990 to over 265 today.  Due to limited resources, City crews must maintain a disciplined priority system.  Keeping major streets open is the City’s key priority.  By focusing first on major streets, emergency routes are maintained to keep essential services functioning after snowfalls that would otherwise paralyze the City.  By following this priority system, in the event of an emergency, police and fire personnel can get to within a few blocks of any home by the way of a plowed major street.  While focusing our attention first on major streets, emergency equipment keeps moving, gets kids to school and people to work.  Please note that sometimes this approach results in a necessary compromise of service to individual residential streets.
Commencement of Snow Removal:
In accordance with the adopted Snow Plan, plowing does not typically commence unless there are 4 to 5 inches of snow accumulated on the roadway or 2 inches accumulated with forecasts of more snowfall. 
Citywide plowing completion goal:
The adopted Snow Plan sets the goal of completion of a citywide plowing operation after a major snow storm, at no more
 than 30 hours.
Snow Information:
Information on snow and ice operations are updated at least daily.  Citizens can contact the Street Department Snowline at 769-2233 during the winter months.
Plowing Priorities:
The City’s Street Department will direct snow removal and ice control operations to established priorities outlined in the adopted snow plan.  These are:
  1. Bus routes
  2. Residential streets
  3. Cul-de-sacs


In the past, citizens have voiced concern over the time it takes to start plowing residential streets.  Recognize that residential streets are low in priority and we do not typically plow them unless there is more than 4 to 5 inches accumulated on them.

A discussion of some of the more typical problem areas:
Sidewalks.  Snowplows need to go a minimum speed in order to throw snow off the side of streets.  We ask our equipment operators not to throw the snow any further than necessary.  In some cases, however, the sidewalks are too close to the curb to avoid getting snow on them.  It is still the duty of the owner or tenant of adjoining sidewalks to remove all snow and ice from such sidewalks as soon as possible, but in any event the morning following a storm.
Snow Deposits at Driveways & Mailboxes.  The City does have the specialized equipment and resources to prevent accumulations of snow from becoming deposited in driveways but not in front of mailboxes.  Citizens should plan for this inevitable occurrence.  The City continues to develop techniques to our snowfighting capabilities with devices called “snow gates” that mitigate these deposits.  For assistance, please refer to the section on Special Available Assistance.
Residential Plowing.  A frequently asked question is “When will you get around to plowing my street?”  We will get there as soon as possible, but remember, major streets are first priority.  City operators are very experienced, most with over 13 years of experience and know how to best accomplish their assigned routes.  They are a dedicated group that works non-stop during storms to clear streets.  Calling a few hours into a storm with this question is not realistic.  Remember the target is 30 hours and that residential streets and Cul-de sacs are our last priority.  Many times there are “storms within a storm” that requires repeat plowing of arterials before residential streets can be plowed.

 Cul-de-sacs.  Cu-de-sacs generate many comments.  If the cul-de-sac was designed to accommodate snow storage in the cul-de-sac or if there is a vacant lot in the cul-de-sac, the operator will use this area to plow the snow from the cul-de-sac.  If no such storage is available, the operator will plow the snow flat into the center of the cul-de-sac.  Street crews will pick up the accumulated snow if the tempo of winter storms allow.

 “Buried” Cars.  Remember, snowstorms are considered emergency situations.  The streets must be plowed and sometimes a parked car will get “buried” by snowplows.  We ask that residents to anticipate plowing operations.  Whenever practical, move cars off the street ahead of plowing.

Citizen Input and Complaints:
Snow removal generates a litany of criticism wherever winter occurs.  Your constructive criticism is always welcomed if you would like to ask a question or have comments or you may Contact 769-2233.
Please recognize:
- That snowstorms are considered emergencies and we all must plan accordingly.
- That snow removal resources are limited.  Crews work to established priorities
- That the citizens of Coeur d’Alene need to be a little patient and recognize that in cases of severe storms, there is bound to be some temporary inconvenience.  Everyone’s street cannot be the first to be opened, it takes time and equipment does fail.  Winter requires lots of patience, understanding and cooperation.

Winter Do and Don’ts:

- Give snow-fighting crews the right of way to finish their important job.
- Drive with extra caution during winter months.
- Clean off your sidewalk as required by City ordinance.
- Allow plenty of room between you and snow equipment.
- Remember to brake slowly.
- Be patient, drive at reduced speeds and allow extra travel time to reach your destination.
- Help City crews by not parking cars along major snow routes whenever possible.  This will prevent your car from being “buried” by snowplows. 
- Take it easy shoveling - it is hard work and has been linked to heart attacks.
- Help one another… remember, we are all in this thing together.  Help a neighbor remove a driveway or mailbox berm who may not be able to do so themselves.
- Wave to show support to snowplows operators as they pass by – these folks often give up their holidays and work extra hard in winter.
- Throw snow into the street when shoveling your driveway.  Not only does it defeat the purpose of plowing, it is illegal.
 - Forget to plan ahead for winter.  Have your shovels ready, winterize your car and prepare for winter driving with the right tires and chains.
 - Expect specialized service.  With our limited resources, the focus is on major streets.
 - Expect immediate attention to residential or other lower priority streets.
 - Take winter’s frustration out on the Street Department staff.

Special Assistance
During previous years, the Sheriff's Community Labor Program provided snow removal assistance. This program has been suspended with no date certain as to when it will be brought back online.

The City of Coeur d'Alene is actively working to build a volunteer list of community members interested in providing assistance to those who may need help with shoveling driveways, sideways, or clearing fire hydrants. Please check back here in the future for more information.