Learn about the city’s snow response plan

Snowplow plowing snow
File photo of a snow plow. 

Even as October has featured 60 degree days and sunshine, the City of Spokane’s Street Department crews have been preparing for the inevitable return of winter.

Mayor David Condon, Council Member Breean Beggs and other officials previewed the City’s snow response plan, which was revamped a year ago tor respond to citizen concerns.

“While snow response efforts are always challenging, we found citizens generally were pleased with our revised approach,” says Mayor Condon. “The heart of current snow response plan is really pretty simple: More plowing in more areas sooner.”

For the 2018-19 snow season, the biggest change for citizens will be the addition of more snow gates to reduce driveway berms. The city has more than doubled the number of gates in its fleet to 16, up from seven a year ago. Even though new gates won’t eliminate driveway berms, they will greatly reduce them.

Here’s a look at the key components of the city’s snow response plan:


When it snows, even if it’s just an inch or two, crews will plow all the streets, including residential streets. To hold down costs, crews will complete this “maintenance plow” work primarily during regular day shifts Monday through Friday.
Utility crews will supplement Street crews for plowing efforts sooner, and more equipment will be available on a regular basis for plowing.
During a larger snowfall of four inches or more, crews still will move to 24/7 operations to complete a full-City plow, with a goal of completing that work in three days.

Driveway Berms & Sidewalk Snow

The Street Department will outfit 16 pieces of equipment with “gates” that allow plow drivers to avoid placing snow across a driveway or alley access.
The gates will greatly reduce driveway berms in residential areas, but berms are still possible, especially on arterials that are plowed frequently.
Changed plowing techniques also will help alleviate berms and snow pushed onto sidewalks. Crews will plow away from the curb to help keep snow away from driveway and sidewalks. Snow also may be pushed to center medians in some cases.


Citizens are asked to park on the odd side of the street in residential areas for the snow season, which runs from Nov. 15 to March 15. The goal is to make it easier for citizens to comply with parking rules and aid plow drivers with their work.
Downtown on snowy days, on-street parking will be prohibited between midnight at 6 a.m. so parking bays can be plowed out. Signs are installed in the downtown, indicating this rule within the boundaries of Maple to Division and I-90 to the Spokane River. The City has parking options for snow days under the freeway, particularly for those with residential parking passes in the core, and there are off-street surface parking lots as well.
Citizens must move recreational vehicles, boats, and trailers off the street to winter storage locations. These vehicles will be towed if they aren’t moved by Nov. 15.

Collaboration on Sidewalks

Property owners remain responsible for clearing the sidewalk adjacent to their properties. The City is asking citizens to clear a 36-inch path to allow school children, disabled individuals, bus riders, and other pedestrians to move safety through the community. The goal is to complete that work by 9 a.m. after a snowfall.
Not everyone is capable of shoveling. Neighbors are asked to help one another with snow clearing. Seniors or disabled individuals also can call 3-1-1 to help get connected with volunteer services that may be able to help. A call to arrange assistance can be made now.


The City will share information before and during the snow season, providing information to the local media and through a variety of communication tools from social media to City Cable 5 to the City’s web site.
Staff will update online plowing maps more frequently during 24/7 operations to give citizens better information on snow plowing progress.
Residential routes are named to closely follow the City’s neighborhood boundaries to make it easier for people to understand where plows are.

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