Snow Removal

Snow Removal

When it snows in Gaithersburg, the Public Works Department staff goes into action. These snow fighters concentrate on keeping City streets passable during winter weather events, and cleared as soon as possible after the storm is over.

The following is a list of general information and ways you can help our snow fighters provide the most efficient winter weather services.

  • There are more than 92 miles of City streets in the City of Gaithersburg. There are also roads within the City that are NOT maintained by City crews. All numbered roads in the City such as Routes 28, 117, 119, 124 and 355 are state roads and are cleared by the Maryland State Highway Administration. Montgomery County also has and maintains streets within the City limits, including Muddy Branch Road, Diamondback Drive and portions of Longdraft Road. Some new streets still are maintained by the developer (until work is complete), and there are a few private streets which are generally the responsibility of a homeowners association.

  • Salt and/or abrasives are applied when snow begins to stick to the road surface, or whenever other types of precipitation may cause slippery conditions. It takes two to four hours to treat all City streets.

  • Plowing operations begin after snow accumulates two inches on the roadway. The City utilizes approximately 65 people and 40 pieces of equipment to remove snow. It takes seven to eight hours to plow all of the City’s streets one time. Depending on the length of storm and rate of snowfall, most streets will be plowed several times during the storm. After the snow ends, streets will be cleared a final time. Crews work around the clock until all streets are cleared.

  • It is very important that crews clear streets from curb to curb or shoulder to shoulder. Plowing the full width of the street allows for optimum traffic flow, keeps storm drains clear and provides space for crews to operate during heavy snows or in the event that a second storm comes in shortly after the end of the initial storm. It also allows for curbside parking after the storm.

  • If you have off-street parking, please use it. This will allow crews to plow streets in a more effective and efficient manner. It is also less likely that your car will be plowed in, splashed by salt or salt spray or hit by other vehicles. If you must park on the street, be sure to obey no parking signs, park close to the curb, and avoid parking on cul-de-sacs or at the end of a dead-end street.

  • Certain streets within the City are designated as Snow Emergency Routes. Once a snow emergency is declared, it is illegal to park on these roads. Vehicles may be ticketed or towed in this situation. Announcements for snow emergency situations are made on television and radio news broadcasts. It is generally safe to assume that if roads become snow covered, a snow emergency will probably go into effect.

  • Some streets that are not designated as Snow Emergency Routes have parking restrictions that prohibit parking on one side of the street during snow emergencies. It is illegal to park on the side of the street that is posted with such signs during a snow emergency. Vehicles may be ticketed or towed in this situation.

  • As trucks plow snow, they leave a windrow or continuous mound of snow along the right side of the plow. This is unavoidable. Plows push snow, they do not remove it. Snow windrows will continue to be created each time the trucks plow the street, including the final pass after the snow quits falling. Unfortunately, if you clear this windrow before that final pass, trucks will create another windrow on their next pass. If you must shovel before that final pass, it will help if you shovel snow to the right side of your driveway as you stand facing the street.

  • The City plows public streets only. Private streets, mews, alleys, driveways, parking lots, head-in parking spaces, and entranceways are the responsibility of the property owner. Also, if a sidewalk is adjacent to your property, you are responsible to clear snow and ice off of that sidewalk within 12 hours of the last snowfall or freeze.

  • You will probably have your own snow removal to do where you live, whether it is to shovel your driveway, car or sidewalk. Please try to avoid throwing snow back into streets that have been cleared. Doing so can produce more hazardous conditions or lead to unnecessary melting and refreezing conditions on your street. Your street may not get plowed again as crews that have worked long hours by this point may have been sent home for rest.

  • Snow and ice produce hazardous driving conditions no matter how hard government agencies and private contractors work. If you don't need to drive, then don’t. Why risk getting stuck, damaging your car, blocking traffic or snow removal equipment, or incurring towing costs? If you must drive, make sure your vehicle is equipped with snow tires or chains and that you have supplies with you to deal with weather-related driving situations. Also, be sure to clear snow or frost completely off of windshields, windows, headlights and taillights for optimum visibility.

Other Snow Thoughts:

  • Yield to plow and salt trucks. Give them plenty of room to operate. Often, you may see them, but they may not see you.

  • If there is a fire hydrant in your yard or on a public right-of-way near your home, mark it with some type of safe marker such as a wooden stake. It may be your home for which the fire department needs water.

  • Don’t allow children to play in the snow close to the road, especially the high piles of windrowed snow left by the plow truck. Trucks often make several trips through each street, and they may not see children in or near the road.