Street Maintenance FAQ

Am I liable if someone slips or trips on the public sidewalk in front of my house?

No, that sidewalk is on public right of way, and keeping it safe is ultimately the City's responsibility. By ordinance, the City has passed the responsibility for clearing snow on to the property owners, but liability remains with the City. State law allows the City up to 21 days to clear snow after a storm, so in most sidewalk injuries, the City is not negligent according to that law.

How are streets selected for maintenance or replacement work?

We maintain a 5-year plan for upcoming street and utility projects. Usually streets that are reconstructed--the most expensive type of repair--have poor pavement and utilities. If the utility mains are good underneath a street, usually a maintenance project is selected instead of complete reconstruction. An asphalt overlay is a good solution for streets that have a solid gravel base, good drainage, and preferably good curb and gutter. A seal coat is often applied to streets that have decent pavement that is starting to crack, again with good drainage and base. And crack filling is often done before seal coating or on newer streets that are starting to crack. The longer we can keep water out of the base of blacktop streets, the longer it will last.

Should I be concerned about my vehicle during street maintenance?

It is always a good idea to take extra precautions during road work to prevent injury to drivers or workers and to protect vehicles. Of special concern are seal-coating projects, where loose limestone chips are placed on an emulsion and compacted in place. For the first few days, the chips will be loose and can cause damage to vehicles. Slowing down prevents these chips from being kicked up. In very rare cases, tire treads can be affected by a hot rubber material during crack filling, so you may want to avoid these areas immediately after the work is complete.

What is the City's snow plowing policy?

Since plowing usually costs the City about $1,000 in overtime pay per storm, we don't do it as often as some people would prefer. The Street Crew usually plows after a significant snowfall (typically 3" or more). Other factors are accounted for, such as time of year and the forecast for future storms. If it is likely to warm up quickly, plowing may not be necessary. If plowing is not necessary, we often use salt or sand to keep intersections safe. Plowing is usually done during the overnight hours (starting at 2:00 a.m.) so fewer conflicts with moving or parked cars are encountered, especially in the downtown. Snow is sometimes removed from the downtown or highway areas when the amount of accumulation makes plowing to the side difficult.

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