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Denver's snowplow plan this week will include residential streets, city says

When it snows in Denver, a common question is: "Why aren't they plowing my street?"

DENVER — A new round of winter weather is headed to Colorado at the start of the week, bringing several inches of snow to the Denver metro area and more than a foot to some mountain areas.

While snow is an expected part of winter in Colorado, many new people coming to the state may wonder what specific policies there are in regards to plowing and making sure sidewalks are clear.

We asked Denver's Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (DOTI) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to answer your frequently asked questions.

What is Denver's plow plan?

Denver and area counties will plow heavily-traveled roads first before moving onto ones that don’t see as much traffic.

Emphasis is also placed on areas around hospitals and schools. The City of Denver has 70 large plows and 36 smaller residential plows.

Denver's large plows can drop deicer down to provide traction on the streets. The small plows do not carry deicer.

During the snowstorm on Jan. 17-18, Denver's residential plows will take a single pass down the center of each side street over the course of a 12-hour shift. 

The small plows do not bring streets to bare pavement but can be helpful in creating a path to the main streets and preventing deep ice ruts from forming, according to Denver officials.

This means that yes, you likely will be driving on an unplowed road at some point during a snowstorm – which makes sense, because there are 2,050 lane miles of main streets (streets with stripes) in Denver, and it takes manpower to reach these.

There’s not really a rule of thumb when it comes to how many inches of snow it takes to deploy residential plows, but instead, the determination is made by if it will be useful, according to DOTI.

Where can I report safety issues?

You can make a report to Denver 311's Pocketgov website or call 311 in Denver and report what you think are problem streets after a storm. They’ll pass this feedback along to the Department of Transportation & Infrastructure in Denver.

Denver asks that reports be made as specific as possible, including nearest cross streets, so the plows know where to find the trouble spot.

Will Denver plow bike lanes?

Ice and snow in on-street, non-protected bike lanes are treated as ice complaints. Denver will send a crew with large equipment to blade the ice in these lanes after a complaint is received via 311 or Pocketgov.

For protected bike lanes, Denver will drop down deicer as needed or appropriate, and run smaller plows over snowy or icy areas when complaints are made via 311 or Pocketgov

Is there a Colorado snow plow tracker?

Yes, if you’re looking for plows, there’s a tracker at DOTI's and CDOT’s website.

When should you shovel your sidewalks? 

Denver requires that property owners clear snow and ice from their sidewalks, including adjacent ADA ramps.

As soon as the snow stops falling, businesses need to begin clearing their sidewalks immediately. Residences need to clear their sidewalks by the next day.

Inspectors will leave a time-stamped notice at properties with un-shoveled sidewalks. After receiving a notice, businesses have four hours and residences have 24 hours before the inspector’s re-check and a potential $150 fine.

If it has been more than 24 hours after a snow event and sidewalks near you are still not shoveled, contact Denver 311 to provide the address of the unshoveled sidewalk.

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