The Public Works Streets Division strives to maintain the city's streets and rights-of-way for the safety and security of the public. To report problems, please use our online forms at the right. Problems are only handled by Public Works if they are in the street or City's right-of-way, defined as the area from sidewalk to sidewalk. Other problems are the responsibility of the property owner. If you have questions please feel free to contact the Public Works Work Center at (607) 737-5750 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Department of Public Works aims to keep the City shining and clean at all times. Public Works Streets Division sweeps every day following the collection of your garbage, weather permitting. Streets are generally swept between the months of April and November.
Snow, Ice, and Salt Operations
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.
As soon as snow, sleet or freezing rain starts to cause hazardous driving conditions, crews are deployed to remove the snow and immediately improve conditions. During the winter months, generally mid-November to mid-April, the Streets Division maintains snow watch shifts with several crew members covering the drive times -- 5am to 6pm, Monday through Friday. Off shifts are covered with other staff who work in conjunction with the Elmira Police Department to handle icy intersections.
Each year the City of Elmira inspects the city streets to keep them up to the standards set by New York State. The goal of the citywide pavement program is to meet or exceed New York State goals. We also strive to stabilize pavement conditions as measured by the percentages of pavement in poor and fair condition and by the average surface condition rating at no worse than the 1986 statewide levels. We maintain higher volume roads to an overall higher condition level than lower volume roads. If you notice a pothole on your street or any street in the City of Elmira, please call or email the Work Center. The Department of Public Works will send out a crew to patch the pothole. Depending on the season, the pothole is patched with either temporary filling or permanent filling. If the pothole is patched temporarily, DPW will permanently patch the area when weather permits.
We strive to maintain a viable urban forest, by caring for a healthy and varied mix of tree species. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, urban canopies provide wildlife habitat, cooling and shade in the summer, and a measure of wind protection in the winter. If you feel a tree should be trimmed in the right-of-way adjacent to your property, please call or email the Work Center. The City will inspect your tree and property and determine the best course of action. (City policy is that healthy trees are not removed.)
Trees and Sewers
Slowly draining sinks and sluggish toilets may be an indication
of clogged sewer lines, but don't be too quick to blame nearby trees for causing
the problem. Tree roots only invade sewer lines that have already broken, most
often due to earth settlement, dried joints, or age. Broken sewer lines or
joints leak sewage into the ground, and adjacent roots, which need moisture and
nutrients, soon invade the surrounding area and eventually the defective lines.
They can enter the defective pipe and eventually block the flow of its
In addition, studies show that roots from shrubbery planted around the house are the culprits more often than tree roots. Also, consider the fact that tree roots are rarely associated with water line problems, even though trees need water. The reason is that water lines are commonly made of cast iron, bolted together and designed not to break or leak. Sewer lines, particularly those older than 60 years old, are often made of clay tiles fitted together with mortar. Clay is fragile and eventually cracks due to soil settlement or earth tremors. Additionally, over time the mortar can deteriorate, and fall out of the joint. When these situations occur, tree roots may enter the line. However, a simple solution allows trees, shrubbery, and free flowing sewers to coexist:
Local home centers sell a product, often called “foaming root killer”, which when flushed down your toilet, kills tree and shrubbery roots on contact in the sewer line (without causing undue stress or damage to the tree or shrub.) This product is inexpensive and easy to use, and is effective for one to five years. Look for a brand without copper additives, as this is safer to use both for you and your plumbing system. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
Problems can be prevented by:
- Proper construction of new sewer lines, including the use of glued PVC, tight joints, and a firm soil base that won't settle unevenly.
- Repair or replacement of defective sewers. Repeated root blockage may indicate a collapsed or badly damaged pipe.
The Department of Public Works is responsible for lighting the entire City of Elmira roadways for public safety within the City limits. We repair any lights which are owned by the City of Elmira. In the downtown area of Elmira, street lights were replaced with new antique-style lights, with all electric installed underground. These new lights use less electricity and save money. If you notice a Street Light that is broken or malfunctioning, please use the contact the to notify Public Works. Broken street lights create a public hazard and may use more electricity than functioning lights.
Traffic Calming Measures
In 2008, the City began an initiative to lower speeds in residential
areas through the installation of speed humps on targeted City streets. The
first speed humps were installed on Mt. Zoar Street near the City line with
the Town of Southport and on Garden Road, West of Hoffman Street. The Garden
Road speed hump has been removed in order to study if temporary traffic calming
measures have lasting effects.
The speed humps are made of recycled rubber, and are designed to slow vehicles to 20mph. Signage is in place to warn motorists of the new traffic calming techniques. The two humps will be monitored to gauge their effectiveness on Mt. Zoar Street, a higher-volume residential thoroughfare, and Garden Road, a lower-volume roadway. If successful, more speed humps will be installed around the City.
The rubber humps can be removed in winter to avoid damage from snow plows.
Streets ProgramsPublic Works Streets Division is responsible for the Dial-A-Truck and Furniture and Appliance Pickup Programs. For more information about these programs please contact the sanitation division.
Streetwork Submission Site
The City also provides a Streetwork Submission Site to contractors. This web page notifies the media, emergency services, and Public Works of pending street closures or work which otherwise impedes traffic. It does not provide permission to close the street. Contractors wishing to close a City street for any period of time must obtain permission from the Traffic Coordinating Board. For access to the site, please contact the Engineering Division.