A Citizenís Guide to Snow Removal


The Department of Public Works works as quickly as possible during inclement weather to assure the safety and clearance of all city streets for the use of emergency vehicles and citizens. Your patience, cooperation, and understanding will help the road crews to clear the roads faster and safer.

Plowing the Roads

Public Works crews work around the clock, often reporting to work at 3:00am and working until 3:00pm or later. The City crews have 10 snow plows, 6 salt trucks with underbelly plows, 4 front-end loaders, and 2 graders in use during snow removal operations. A team of more than 22 city employees per shift coordinate to ensure that bridges, roadways, hills, and highways are cleared in the most efficient manner possible.

Snow removal operations is coordinated back at the Work Center at City Yards where supervisors with a current city street map and a radio maintain constant communication with plow operators. When a street has been plowed, the operator reports back to a supervisor and the street is crossed off the map. The supervisor then directs the operator to the next street to be cleared. Plow crews focus on primary routes through the city first- Clemens Center Parkway, Church Street, Water Street, Main Street, etc. Once the primary routes are clear, plows are dispatched to clear secondary routes, residential neighborhoods, and then dead ends and alleys. Snow plows make multiple passes up and down each street to move as much snow to the side of the road as possible. With over 120 miles of streets to plow with 4 or more passes, this can take some time, especially if the primary routes need to be frequently re-plowed.

When you are driving during snow removal operations, please be patient and give snow plows a wide berth. You should NEVER pass a snow plow unless indicated by the operator. Snow plows have a limited visibility and must often make sudden moves to avoid parked cars and other roadside obstacles.

Shoveling Your Driveway

If it is possible, wait to shovel out your driveway until after the snow plows pass through your street. Plow crews often work in teams so don't shovel your driveway out as soon as a plow passes by. Wait 10-15 minutes for another plow to go through or for the original plow to make a second pass. If you cannot wait, shovel the entrance to your driveway last. If you shovel it first and a plow passes by while you shovel the rest, the snow that the plow is pushing will empty into the opening you just created.

Another important tip to make shoveling your driveway easier is to pile the snow on the opposite side of the snow plow's approach. On a standard two-way street this would be the right side of your driveway as you face the street. This way, when the plow passes by, less snow will be pushed back into your driveway (see diagram at right).

It is a public hazard and against New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law to shovel snow into the street. This creates a slushy mix on the side of the road that the snow plows may not be able to reach due to parked cars or other roadside obstacles. If you use a snowblower, point the blower away from the street. The Elmira Police Department can cite citizens for shoveling or blowing snow into the street. If you hire a contractor to plow your driveway or shovel your walk, you should make certain that they do not plow or shovel snow into the street. When shoveling, snowblowing or plowing, you cannot block visibility at a street corner or block pedestrian access to the sidewalk.

Homeowners are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of their property. If you fail to clear the sidewalk within 12 hours after it starts snowing, you can be fined $100 by Code Enforcement. It is also the homeowner's responsibility to shovel out fire hydrants on or near their property. If a fire were to break out, the Elmira Fire Department would lose valuable time attempting to locate and dig out a buried fire hydrant.

The Department of Public Works clears the sidewalk from all city-owned properties and parks with tractors.

Parking Your Car

If you have a driveway, please use it to keep the streets as clear of obstacles as possible. When parking your car on the street during a snowstorm or prior to a forecasted snowstorm, park as close to the curb as possible. If possible, park so that another car is not directly across from you (see diagram at right). It is very difficult for snow plows to maneuver on streets with cars that are parked 2 feet from the curb. If the snow plow cannot fit down the street, then the street cannot be cleaned at that time. This is very important for one way streets where cars are parked on both sides. If parked cars are not staggered, the wide snow plows cannot fit through the narrow street and the street will not be plowed. This is also a serious safety concern as the Elmira Fire Department would not be able to pass through the narrow street.

Overnight parking is regulated by Odd-Even parking according to City Ordinance. Between the hours of 2:00am and 7:00am, motorists must park on the odd-numbered side of the street on odd-numbered calendar days and the even-numbered side of the street on even-numbered calendar days. This is very important during snowstorms for streets to be cleaned as quickly and easily as possible and cars in violation can be towed by the Elmira Police Department. If you have overnight guests that need a place to park, overnight parking is available in the Centertown Garage on Gray Street. Not only does this remove the car from city streets, allowing snow plow crews to clean the road easier, but your guests won't have to brush the snow off the car the next day.

If you park your car on the street, it is also a good idea to clean it off. In cases of large snowfall, small cars can be buried quickly and look like snow drifts. Coupled with poor visibility, plow operators could strike a car that has not been properly cleaned off.

Sanitation and Garbage Collection

Residents are asked to accommodate sanitation personnel by placing all garbage cans, recycle bins, and garbage bags in an area that can be reached from the street. Placing solid waste materials on or behind high snow banks can create trip and slip hazards for employees.

We'll Work with You

If you have questions or concerns regarding snow removal, conduct of snow plows, parking during a snowstorm, or problems with snow removal on your street or neighborhood, please contact us. We will work with you to determine the source of the problem and the most appropriate resolution. Call the Work Center at (607) 737-5750 or .



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