Cities that use Snow Gates to Improve Snow Plowing Services

Elm Ave Feb 14, 2010

Image by bosconet via Flickr

This list was made quickly from an Internet search and comes from news reports and city government web sites, and includes cities using or testing “snow gates” on some or all plows to avoid building huge snow and ice berms in the driveways of residences and businesses, closing off their access to streets:

  • Moscow, ID
  • Sandpoint, ID
  • Couer D’Alene, ID
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Placer County, CA (Lake Tahoe Basin area)
  • Bozeman, MT
  • Boise, ID (tries to avoid plowing berms into residential driveways)
  • Dickinson, ND
  • Minot, ND
  • Bismarck, ND
  • Jamestown, ND (considering)
  • Spearfish, SD
  • Prince George, BC
  • Kodiak, AK
  • Regina, SK
  • Calgary, AB – does not use gates but makes attempts not to block driveways. Berms higher than 1 foot may be subsequently cleared by the city.
  • Ann Arbor, MI – does not use gates but has a policy goal to clear all streets within 24 hours of a 4 inch snow fall. They even clear bike lanes. They also then typically put down de-icer after plowing.
  • Newark, NJ allows the use of private contractors, hired by residents, to clear residential and rural roads not cleared by the government plows. Private contractors may also be hired by residents to spread de-icer or salt prior to or after storms.
  • Inyo County, CA (where snow is always measured in feet, not inches) – does not use snow gates but attempts to minimize snow berms at driveways and mailboxes. After the snow event has passed, they return to remove any snow berms.

There are many more cities that deal with snow removal operations in an efficient, professional and courteous manner. The above is a partial list to illustrate that things do not have to be done as poorly as they are done in Spokane.

Snow gates work on graders but not plows on trucks. The City of Spokane replaced its graders, used prior to the mid 1990s, with dump truck plows. And old timers say that snow removal operations are now worse than before.

  • Spokane does not use snow gates
  • Spokane does not come back later and clear snow berms of any height – we have had berms 3 to 4 feet high and 8 to 12 feet wide across the width of our driveway.
  • Spokane prohibits the use of any privately owned plows on public streets. Ostensibly this is to protect the streets but the actual purposes is protect unionized city and county workers’ jobs from competition.
  • Once upon a time, Spokane did try to avoid building snow/ice berms in driveways but no more.

This is fixable and could be made much better – but only if we want it to fix it.


Several comments in an online news story say that once upon a time, the city avoided creating berms on driveways. Another comment is from someone who moved to another city outside the area and marvels at the efficiency of his new community in rapidly clearing roads and sidewalks of snow within 24 hours – and says the snow is moved away, not dumped in driveways.

On Dec 31st, the city will layoff 14 positions in the Streets Department (which does the snow removal). This is going to be a very long – and stuck – winter that harms the local economy.

So much for driving fuel efficient compact cars; I fell for the green economy, sold my 4×4 truck and drive a 40 mpg compact car. Which now leaves me trapped. If you live in Spokane and need reliable transport, you must own a moderately large 4×4 vehicle.


One Response to Cities that use Snow Gates to Improve Snow Plowing Services

  1. Pingback: Top 23 most read blog posts on this web site « Spokane Economic And Demographic Data

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