Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are answers to the most commonly asked snow plowing and winter road condition questions. Please look through these questions first before calling. During storms, we are often too busy to take the time to give complete explanations. These answers will better inform you about our snow removal policies and procedures.
Why can't you plow my street now?
We wish we had enough snowplows and drivers to take care of every street right away, but our resources are limited and so we must adhere to a carefully laid out system for clearing the streets. If we allowed our plows to be diverted each time a special request was made, our system would be destroyed and it would take far longer to get all the streets in the City cleared. To keep our snow removal operations as effective and efficient as possible, plows are not permitted to deviate from their assigned routes.
The plow left some snow at the end of my driveway. Can you send someone to come and plow it out?
There are approximately 5,700+ driveways in Claremont. If we used all of our plows and spent just 60 seconds per driveway, it would take 95 hours to clean driveways alone. One thing you can do to minimize the problem is to pile snow that has been shoveled from the driveway on the downstream side of the driveway. Then if the snowplow hits the pile, it will be moved onto the grass or sidewalk, not back into your driveway. The plow crews do not come back and plow out any driveways.
I own a business downtown. How are streets plowed in the Business District?
Streets and alleys in the central business district are treated separately from other snow and ice control operations because snow storage within the street and alley rights-of-way is not desirable. Snow removal is normally accomplished by hauling the snow from the area. Snow plowing procedures are utilized only to the extent that storage of snow along the traveled portion of the roadway will not inhibit vehicle movement in and out of parking stalls.
When snow removal operations begin, streets and alleys in and near the central business area are sanded and salted. Snow hauling operations normally commence only when the storm has subsided. If it is snowing at 9:00 p.m., streets are passable, and snow is predicted to continue falling throughout the night, snow hauling operations will not normally begin until the following evening.
Can you tell me exactly when my street will be plowed?
Under ideal circumstances, we can predict fairly accurately when we will have streets in various sections of the City plowed. As weather conditions change we often must alter our snow-fighting strategy in the midst of the snow removal operations in order to control drifting snow, ice or other special problems. We cannot give you an estimate of when your street will be cleared due to ever-changing weather conditions.
Why don't the trucks plow and salt on the way to their routes?
Each snowplow has an assigned route. If the trucks spread salt on the way to their destination, then they wouldn't have enough to spread along their own route. Plowing along the way would mean it would be just that much longer until the truck reached its assigned route.
Why don't you use the big trucks to plow out cul-de-sacs?
The varying sizes of cul-de-sacs present plowing problems ranging from difficult to impossible. A plow can easily cut an 11-foot path through the snow on a straight road surface, but trying to plow and turn the blade in a small circle in a cul-de-sac is very difficult. Therefore, endloaders with blades and buckets are used to plow most cul-de-sacs more efficiently than the large trucks. However, there are not enough endloader units for each route. The units are shared by adjoining routes as necessary. This will result in longer response times on cul-de-sacs.
Is there a reason why you can't pile the snow on the medians instead of putting it on the sidewalks?
As we plow from curb to curb to provide for safe vehicular flow and mail delivery, snow may inadvertently fall onto the sidewalk. Unfortunately, there are a number of locations in the city where the park area is very narrow and the plowed snow covers the sidewalks. Some have suggested that the plows should go through these areas at a slower speed so the snow will not be thrown onto the sidewalks. However, the plows must maintain a certain speed in order to keep the snow from sticking onto the blades of the plow. We do not store the snow on medians because the snow can cause sight problems for traffic.
I'm having a party tonight. Can you be sure to plow in front of my house before my guests start arriving?
We wish we could comply with all requests, but equipment and manpower limitations do not permit us to deviate from our predetermined snow plowing system.
Why do you sometimes salt instead of plow, or plow instead of salt?
Different types of storms require the use of different snow-fighting techniques. The decision whether to salt or plow depends upon the expected weather conditions. For example, if the temperature is below 20 degrees and not expected to rise, salt will not be effective. But if the sun is shining and the temperature is 20 degrees or more and expected to remain steady or to rise, then salt would be more effective. The decision whether to plow or salt is made with great consideration and based on the latest weather information available. Plowing under the wrong conditions can create a polished street surface, resulting in dangerous glare ice. The decisions made by an experienced crew and supervisory personnel are critical.
I once saw a snow plow parked in a restaurant parking lot during a bad snowstorm. Why was it there instead of on the streets working?
Snow plow operators take pride in clearing the streets on their routes as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Driving a snowplow is demanding, tiring work. Common sense and good safety practices dictate that each driver should take a 30-minute break every eight hours. It is dangerous, both for the snowplow driver and the public, if a fatigued driver is behind the wheel of a snowplow. It is in the best interest of the all concerned for the drivers to take occasional breaks.
Why do snow plow trucks sometimes just ride around when it's not snowing?
There are three reasons why you might see plows on the streets on snowless days. One is that every driver undergoes pre-season training. Skills must be sharpened and routes need to be learned and relearned. The second reason is that the trucks may be scanning the city for secondary cleaning (cleaning the streets where vehicles were parked during the plowing of the streets). The third reason is that the trucks can be sanding main break areas that are out of their view, or other problem areas.
Salt corrodes my car, sidewalk and drive. Couldn't you use something else?
Some states use cinders. We don't use cinders here because they don't work in all situations. On a hard surface like ice covered and snow packed road, cinders will either bounce off or be kicked out by traffic. We have upgraded from a ‘solar’ or ‘sea’ salt to rock salt. We discovered the sea salt we were purchasing had too much moisture in it. Mid-winter last year, we switched to a rock salt. This is more abrasive and angular. Rock salt should break up when driven on, spreading it more effectively in the travel lane. However, at the end of the 18/19 season, we were introduced to a treated salt product. This is a rock salt product, coated in a salt brine (around 9 gallons/ton). The mixture is coated in molasses which does a few things. The molasses ensures the brine sticks to the salt, it also reduces bounce and scatter (more of the salt stays in the travel lane instead of bouncing toward the gutter) by up to 74%. Lastly, the molasses acts as a natural corrosion inhibiter, reducing the corrosive effects of the salt by as much as 77%! That means, potentially, this salt is less corrosive than distilled water! Not only should that help your personal vehicle last longer, but it should help your DPW fleet last longer too!
I have a heart condition. Can you plow my street in case there is an emergency and an ambulance needs to get through?
The potential for a medical emergency does not warrant priority treatment. Anyone needing an ambulance in a medical emergency should contact the Police Department where all necessary steps will be coordinated.
When is parking prohibited on city streets?
The city is signed for no parking between 12:00 and 7:00 a.m. from 1 Nov to 15 Apr. for snow removal.
What should I do if my vehicle was ticketed and towed for being illegally parked on the street during snow removal operations?
The Police Department coordinates all towing operations. If you find that your vehicle has been towed, contact the Police Department at (603) 542-9538.
When I called the Streets Division number to find out about road conditions, the line was busy.
Our telephone lines are understandably jammed during severe weather conditions. We advise limiting your travel, or staying off the roads entirely if possible. Listen to television and radio bulletins about road conditions. Remember that we can only provide information about streets within the city limits. Our phone lines should be used primarily to alert us if a street has been missed or if there is some special problem relating to the snow removal operations.
Who is responsible for plowing the county and state roads?
Outside of the Compact Zones, the streets are plowed by the NH Department of Transportation. The maintenance garage is located in Enfield.
For information on County and State Road Conditions or to report an issue in the compact zones, http://newengland511.org/
What is and where are the Compact Zones?
The Compact zone is the area in which the City is responsible for the infrastructure and assets within.
On the East side of the city it is at the intersection of Washington St and Roberts Hill Road. On the south side it is at the intersection of Charlestown Road and Grissom Lane. On the West side it is at the intersection of Main St and Jackson St. On the North side it is at Hanover and Dunning streets.
Why hasn't my street been cleared?
It takes between 3 & 4 hours to complete each snow route. Depending on time of day or day of the week, the order in which each route is plowed may vary. Some streets will be skipped until cars are moved so that plows can safely maneuver.
Bus routes and arterial streets have first priority for snow plowing. Residential streets with hills of 2 percent or more grade are second priority. The remainder of the streets are then plowed.
Other streets near the downtown area are posted for no parking 72 hours in advance for cleaning. Any vehicles remaining on the streets after the 72 hours’ notice will be towed. There is a general prohibition against parking a vehicle on-street for 48 or more hours without moving the vehicle. Vehicles may be ticketed more frequently during winter months to ensure that plows are able to plow streets adequately. Anyone leaving town for an extended time (holidays, Spring break) should find suitable off-street parking to avoid ticketing and towing.
During a declared snow emergency, parking is restricted to alternate side of street corresponding to odd/even dates of the calendar.
Please contact the water and sewer bookkeeper at 603-504-0397 or via email: email@example.com.
Please refer to Ordinance #505 Water Rates and Ordinance #506 Sewer Rates.
Ask yourself the following questions: 1. Was extra water used to water a lawn, garden washing automobiles, filling a pool? 2. Was there a leaking faucet, toilet or water line that was repaired? If the answer to these questions is “No”, check the water meter to see if it is running when no water is being used. If it is running, you need to find out from what source. Often times the source is the toilet. Either the flapper doesn’t shut tight after it is flushed or the level in the tank is too high. The level in the tank should be one inch below the top of the fill pipe. Usually there is a “Fill Line” marked on the fill pipe. If water is too high, it can constantly drain down the fill pipe, causing the water to constantly run to refill the tank. Often this is difficult to hear. You can also put food coloring in the tank, wait 30 minutes, and check if the coloring appears in the bowl. If so, there is a leak within the toilet. Efficient new toilets often use one-third the amount of water that older toilets use so you can often recoup the cost of a new toilet in a short period of time through reduced water and sewer costs
These accounts are billed at a “Flat Rate” each quarter. In the majority of cases, customers will save a significant amount of money by having a meter installed so that actual water usage can be billed. For more information on how to have a meter installed, please refer to the “Flat Rate to Meter FAQ”.
Water and Sewer Bills are currently issued quarterly. All but a few of the meters in the City can be read by DPW from the street. Readings are taken around the end of March, June, Sept and Dec. Bills are issued around the 25th of April, July, Oct and Jan. Bills are due in 30 days.
1. The Highway Division, including Streets & Roads, Cemetery, Sanitation, Recycling and Stormwater Sewer
services is funded by the taxpayers.
2. The Utility Division’s responsibility for Water and Sanitary Sewer services are funded through the user
Submit a request in writing to the attention of the Traffic Committee c/o the City Manager’s office, 58 Opera House Square; please include your name, address, specific new sign request and why.
Record the street location and pole # if possible and report directly to the DPW main office at 603 542-7020.
Report to the Fire Department 603 542-5156