Public Works crews are expected to have gravel roadways opened up within 96 hours of the end of a snow storm or series of storm events.
From November to April, members of Public Works staff are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and monitor highway conditions throughout the day and night.
Clearwater County has 341 kilometers of paved roadways, which are cleared with truck snowplows. Our 1900 kilometers of gravel roadways are cleared using graders. There are 13 grader beats in the County, with an average of 162 kilometers per beat. Grader operators alternate their starting location, which means some roads are cleared first this time, and others next time. Depending on road conditions, it can take up to 96 hours for a grader to complete its entire beat.
There are many factors that contribute to how gravel roads are cleared. For instance, graders cannot use their wing on roads until there is enough frost in the ground (otherwise shoulders of the road may be compromised).
Public Works crews do their best to ensure that roadways are opened up as quickly as possible, however, timeframes will vary depending on the severity and duration of the storm. Click here to see the County's Surfaced Roads Winter Maintenance Operations Plan.
In 2010, Council adopted a Clearwater County Code; a document developed to clarify service delivery standards and what to expect when you choose to live in a rural area.
Rural residents should also have an emergency plan in place as any road can become impassable in extreme weather. It is important to have enough food, supplies and medications on hand to last for several days should you be snowed in. Should travel be required – for work or medical reasons – it is up to residents to make sure you have the right vehicle, like a 4x4, that will get you to where you need to go – or have a family member or neighbour lined up that does.
Snowplows and graders are not redirected to clear roadways based on requests from residents.
Snow Clean Up Efforts
Once all County roads have been opened up, crews and equipment begin the longer process of roadway clean-up.
Graders make clean-up passes to breakdown the windrows along the ditches, to help improve line of sight and also to move snow further into the ditch for future snow storage and proper spring drainage. Graders are also equipped with specialized ice blades (Sandvik) to help break up the ice to allow gravel to surface – in an effort to provide for better traction on ice packed roads.
When the next snow event resumes, crews will continue to strive to have roadways opened up within 96 hours of the end of a snow storm or series of storm events.