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The City of Minot won’t be significantly altering its snow removal plan after conducting a review of its snow removal policies following the 2016-17 winter, although the Public Works Department will be working to improve communication with the public during snow events.
Jason Sorenson, assistant public works director for the City of Minot, said following last winter, his department did an internal review and contacted a number of other cities, including ones in North Dakota, Montana and South Dakota, to discuss their snow removal efforts.
While there may be some minor adjustments made to the City’s overall plan, Sorenson said the review found that Minot’s plan compares favorably to other cities they studied. In fact, officials from some cities told Sorenson they would be incorporating parts of Minot’s plan into their own procedures.
“We will continue to follow an overall plan that starts with clearing emergency snow routes, then moving into hillside streets, school areas, downtown, and residential areas after that,” Sorenson said. “Keeping emergency routes clear is vital not only for residents, but also for police, fire, and emergency services.”
“We’ve added a few more roads that we’re responsible for clearing, but we’ve only added a minimal amount of actual lane miles this year,” Sorenson said. “We’re leasing the same number of blades, but we’ve changed the specs a little bit to help cut down on repairs, maintenance and down time.”
Sorenson said after talking with members of the public and having internal discussions, the Public Works Department will begin implementing methods to better communicate during snow removal efforts by posting updated information on the City of Minot website.
“One thing we’re working on at the request of residents is how to get out daily information on where the snow plows we’ve been, and where they’re going next,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to help residents know when the plows are coming through their area, so they can make sure vehicles are off the road.”
The City will continue to use snow gates on its blades, which help reduce the amount of snow left behind at the end of driveways. Minot has been using the snow gates since the 1960s, although many cities no longer use the gates because it can slow down the snow removal process by as much as 30 percent.
“We could speed things up by not using the snow gates, but we have no desire to do that,” Sorenson said. “We think the amount of snow that would be left behind would be a burden to the residents of Minot, and that’s just not something we want to do.”
Minot has more than 1,200 lane miles to clear, which the city normally accomplishes with eight blades and three truck plows. The average for each piece of equipment is 109 miles. In contrast, the City of Bismarck averages 67 miles per piece of equipment in clearing its 1,400 lane miles, while Grand Forks averages 44 miles per piece of equipment in clearing its 750 lane miles.