Schuylkill Township has developed this Snow Removal Policy in order to allow the residents of Schuylkill Township a better understanding of snow removal operations and procedures. An informed public will ultimately reduce complaints and problems for the township staff and the residents of Schuylkill Township. The goal of the Township’s Roads Department is to efficiently and safely remove snow and ice from the roadways to bare road surface. The Township reserves the right to deviate from this policy at any time due to weather conditions, manpower shortage, material shortage, equipment failure, CDL restrictions, or any other unforeseen problem.
The Schuylkill Township Roads Department consists of four full-time employees. These employees are class B CDL licensed operators and are subjected to random drug and alcohol testing and by law are only permitted to drive ten hours at a time without an eight-hour break unless the Board of Supervisors declares an emergency. Multiple snowstorms can cause problems with the CDL restrictions on driving hours. An emergency can be declared in order to allow the employees additional driving hours, however, the bare road surface cannot be expected in some of these cases. Making the roads passable may be the goal instead. Each Roads employee mans a dump truck equipped with salt spreader and an angle plow.
In addition to the Township’s Roads employees, the Township contracts with an outside contractor to provide snow removal services. This contractor is called into duty at the discretion of the Roadmaster. The contractor provides additional dump trucks with snow plow and salt spreader capabilities.
There are approximately 40 miles of Township maintained roads and an additional 13 miles of State maintained roads in Schuylkill Township. Based on an agreement that the Township has with PennDOT, the Township does remove snow from some of the State Roads, however, not the State Highways, such as Routes 113, 23 and 724. Any problems or complaints concerning the State Highways should be taken up with PennDOT.
Roads employees are “called out” by the Roadmaster. He is notified of poor winter conditions by a variety of means, including: the Township’s police department, 911, State Police, as well as regular monitoring of weather reports on television and radio channels. Once a call is made it generally takes 45-60 minutes before the winter maintenance operation begins. Each driver has to complete a vehicle check before loading materials. Depending on the timing of the storm, application of anti-skid and salt usually takes 2 hours; plowing takes nearly 8 hours from the end of the storm. Salt and anti-skid are stored in the township’s salt sheds in the maintenance yard, which can hold a capacity of 400 tons of material. In a typical year the township uses 200 tons of material to treat the roads. Material has to be ordered and trucked in throughout the winter.
The first operation during a snow event of any magnitude is to get salt and anti-skid down on the roads to keep the snow from adhering to the road surface. Most times this is all that has to be done. Salt can melt off two inches of snow depending on the conditions. Temperatures above 26º and traffic help salt work. Temperatures below 26º can cause salt to lose its effectiveness. Plowing usually takes place when there are snows of 2 inches or more. Material can still be put down during the plowing process and most of the time it is. During certain persistent storms, that require the roads to be plowed several times, anti-skid and salt are not put down again until the end of the storm is near. This is done primarily to save material and not to waste it.
The township is divided into three zones for snow plow removal. Each driver has a route they follow within their zone and they stay with the same route so they can become accustomed to problem areas. During a heavier snow fall, when the contractor is called out, each zone will have three trucks working to plow snow and apply materials. The sequence of snow removal is determined by the amount of traffic that normally uses a particular road. The main roads are cleared first, then secondary roads, and lastly cul de sac roads which have the least traffic.
Role of the resident during snow removal: Snow storms are stressful. When a storm occurs during the week the snow removal operation is significantly slower as the plows must deal with heavier traffic from rush hour and school dismissals. The public is asked to please limit their trips during snow events.
Article I §340-2 of the Township Code prohibits parking on any public streets during any snow storm, ice storm or snow fall during which snow or ice removal operations are undertaken by the Township. This regulation is to insure that a snowplow can pass through a street that would otherwise be too narrow if cars were parked at the curb.
There is no other place for the snowplow to push snow than off to the side of the road. The drivers cannot take the time to keep driveways clear. If you have to clean your driveway before the trucks plow the road, place the snow on your yard. Please do not shovel your snow onto the roadway as it will be plowed back to the side of the road or into your driveway when the snowplow passes. Shoveling snow out into the road can create a hazardous condition because it can freeze and cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle.
Mailboxes – the snowplow drivers do not try to hit mailboxes, however, on occasion this does happen. Most mailboxes are knocked down from the snow as it comes off of the plow. Make sure your mailbox post is strong and able to withstand snow hitting it. Check the box to make sure that it is firmly attached to the post. Mailboxes are considered a structure in the right-of-way. A sound post and securely attached box will not be knocked over by snow coming off the plow. All drivers are instructed to drive as slow as realistically possible during wet snows in order to minimize the problems with mailboxes. If a driver physically hits a mailbox with the truck, they are instructed to report it and the Township will reimburse the property owner $25 to replace the damaged mailbox. Mailboxes knocked down because of snow are the responsibility of the resident. To report damage, please submit a Claim Form for Plowing Damage to the township.
Many problems occur during snow removal – traffic, duration of the storm, amount of snow, equipment failures and fatigue – all hinder the snow removal process. Schuylkill Township is committed to providing the best service possible. The patience and cooperation of township residents makes the snow removal process much easier.