Snow Plowing Policy

WHEREAS, the Town Board (Board) of Maine Prairie Township (Town) is the road authority and provides maintenance for approximately 77 miles of road in the Town; and

WHEREAS, the Board, as the road authority, provides for snow and ice control on the town roads it has designated to receive winter maintenance; and

WHEREAS, the Board secures its snow and ice control services through contract with an independent contractor (Contractor); and

WHEREAS, the Board has determined that it is in the best interest of the Town to develop a policy to set out how snow and ice control activities will be conducted on town roads considering the Town’s limited resources;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Board hereby adopts the following as the snow and ice control policy for the Town;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any Contractor performing snow and ice control services for the Town shall follow this policy.

In developing this policy for how to best undertake snow and ice control activities
in the Town, the Board has had to balance a number of factors including, but not limited to, the following: public safety, the amount of funds available for these activities, the desire to maintain an efficient transportation system, enable the delivery of emergency services, avoid damage to Town property and personal property and the cost effective allocation of resources.

The Town’s goal is to have all Town roads passable within 8 – 10 hours after snowfall stops. Plowing priorities reflect a commitment to keep key roads open to serve critical facilities and provide access between our community and County and State roads and highways.

The Town does not assure a completely bare road and will not normally sand the entire section of roadway. Town road users are reminded to exercise and drive with care. It may not be possible or advisable to drive the posted speed limit at all times.

Contract for Services: The Board contracts with an independent contractor for the following services and equipment:

  1. Snow and ice removal;
  2. Sanding and salting;
  3. Graders for snow and ice removal;
  4. Trucks for plowing snow and sanding;
  5. Pickup truck with blade for snow and ice removal;
  6. Bobcat with blower;
  7. Tractor with blower;
  8. Salt sand; and
  9. Contractor personnel to perform the services referred to in this paragraph.

Because the Town obtains snow and ice control services through a non-exclusive contract, it does not have direct control over the availability of personnel, equipment or the timing of the service delivery. The Town indicates through this policy and the service contract the work to be performed and the performance expectations, but the Contractor must remain free to exercise initiative and discretion in how best to perform or provide the services.

Safety, Equipment Damage and Effectiveness: Snow and ice control operations will be conducted only when weather conditions do not endanger the safety of operators or pose an unreasonable risk of damaging equipment. Once initiated, operations will be suspended if conditions deteriorate to the point that operations become unsafe for operators because of factors including, but not limited to, severe cold, significant winds, limited visibility, accumu-lation of ice or rapid accumulation of snow. Operations will also be delayed or suspended if existing or anticipated conditions indicate the operations will not be effective.

In order to provide for the most efficient and effective snowplowing as possible, the Board must determine which town roads will be plowed first. The Board has placed all the town roads the Town snowplows into three priority categories based on factors such as traffic volume, road function and the importance of a road to the welfare of the community. The Board has determined that those town roads classified as priority one town roads should be snowplowed first, priority two town roads should be snowplowed second and priority three town roads should be snowplowed third. A town road may only be snowplowed in the order accorded its priority category except in emergencies as set out in this policy.

  1. Priority One Town Roads: The following area roads color coded in yellow on the attached map are classified as priority one town roads for snowplowing purposes.
  2. Priority Two Town Roads: The following area roads color coded in green on the attached map are classified as priority two town roads for snowplowing purposes.
  3. Priority Three Town Roads:  Roads that are not color coded on the attached map are classified as priority three town roads for snowplowing purposes

If law enforcement requests snow removal to assist emergency vehicles to respond to an emergency situation, reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate the request.


    The Town will not usually plow until after a snowfall has stopped. During extended periods of snowfall, exceptions may be made when accumulations exceed 3 inches, or when snow is particularly heavy, wet or icy.  Snow plows will not be sent out in conditions deemed to be hazardous. Snow plowing may be stopped during low visibility or conditions otherwise determined to be hazardous by the snow plow operator.  If snowfall stops during regular working hours, plows may be dispatched at that time. If the snowfall stops during night or early morning hours, plows will be dispatched at an early morning time according to the conditions. Weekend plowing will be handled in a similar fashion.
    Generally, the clearing of roads will follow the following three (3) phases:
    1. Make the Road Passable: Clear one (1) lane in each direction.
    2. Widen Lanes to Edge of Shoulder: Sanding may be done on paved roads including intersections, curves, hills and bridges. Entire road sections will not be sanded.
    3. Clean Up: Remove ice, snow and slush off roadway when permissible.
  3. ROUTES: Generally, the clearing of roads will follow the priorities set forth on the attached map.

The Town will not provide for snowplowing or sanding of private property except when requested to do so by law enforcement to provide access for emergency vehicles responding to an emergency. If private property is used with permission of the owner to turn around equipment, the Town may snowplow the private property as needed to accommodate the Town’s use of the land. This permission by the owner does not constitute the private property becoming a Town road.

State law prohibits, and Town policy forbids, plowing private roads or driveways.  Residents are reminded that “it is unlawful for anyone to deposit snow or ice in a public road right-of-way or to otherwise obstruct a public road. Minn. Stat. §§ 160.27, subd. 5(a)(1); 169.42, subd. 1 Depositing snow or ice in a road also increases snowplowing costs, creates a potential public safety hazard and could damage equipment.

Snow will be plowed in a manner to minimize traffic obstructions. Snow will normally be plowed from the center of the road first. Then snow will be pushed from left to right until at least the main traveled portion of the road has been cleared. Snow will normally be pushed to the sides of the road unless it is determined that the snow should be hauled to another location. Because of limited resources and restrictions on the use of salt, blacktopped roads will not usually be cleared down to bare blacktop.

It is the Town’s policy to use special care and consideration when plowing snow in the vicinity of mailbox supports. Snow will be plowed as close as practicable to mail boxes in the road right-of-way. It shall be the responsibility of property owners to clear snow from around their mailboxes to enable mail delivery. If damage is caused to your mailbox by the snow plows, refer to the Town’s Mailbox Policy. This policy can be found on the Township website (Maine Prairie or by calling the Clerk for a copy of the policy.

Snowplowing unavoidably results in snow being deposited on driveways and approaches. It is the responsibility of land owners to remove snow from their driveways and approaches.

Public road rights-of-way are used for a variety of purposes that are outside of the direct control of the Town and/or the independent contractor.

It is the responsibility of owners to keep the road rights-of-way clear of vehicles, trailers, trash cans and other items of personal property in order to facilitate the proper snow and ice control operations. If an owner fails to keep the road clear of personal property, the owner becomes responsible for promptly clearing the snow left in the right-of-way around the item. If the Board determines personal property left in the road right-of-way poses an unreasonable risk to public safety, or significantly interferes with snowplowing operations, it will have the item removed from the right-of-way at the owner’s expense. While reasonable efforts will be made to avoid damaging private property, snow and ice control operations may result in damage to the property of others. Where private property damage does occur, it is the policy of the Town to handle damages in the following manner.

Questions regarding snow removal and/or road conditions should be directed to the Town Supervisors.

Complaints and requests for further services should be directed to the Board. If the Contractor is aware of complaints or requests for additional services, it shall forward such complaints or requests to the Board for consideration.

The Board will periodically review this policy, taking into consideration any changing conditions in the Town’s circumstances, any complaints or comments received and the experience learned from undertaking snow and ice control procedures.

Adopted this 12th day of February, 2013.                                                           

Prepared 2/1/2013