The public rights-of-way are used to place both public and private utilities such as storm sewer, sanitary sewer, water main, telecommunication, electric and gas lines. Recently, the Baxter City Council adopted an ordinance to ensure effective and careful management of these public areas. Baxter’s ordinance addresses things such as:
- Permit requirements and fees;
- Registration and ROW Occupancy;
- Standards for location and installation of equipment and lines;
- Removal of abandoned equipment; and
- Right-of-way restoration.
Under this ordinance, persons – including utility companies, telecommunication firms and private contractors – excavating and obstructing the rights-of-way will bear financial responsibility for their work and provide for recovery of out-of-pocket and projected costs to the City of Baxter. By adopting this ordinance, the City is able to maintain its right-of-way in a state of good repair, provide for the safety of the public, protect the City’s infrastructure and ensure appropriate use.
Mailbox installation may seem simple, but residents need to think about safety before they install a new mailbox.
Improperly installed and/or maintained mailbox supports can become a fixed object hazard. Mailboxes that are not fixed properly to their support can break loose and become dangerous projectiles, endangering motorists and residents.
Therefore, the Baxter City Council adopted a mailbox support design and policy on June 15, 2010, which provides public right-of-ways that are safe, efficient, are free of unnecessary hazards, while providing minimum inconvenience to property owners.
The new policy requires swing away mailbox supports when installing a new mailbox support or replacing a deteriorating or broken mailbox support. In addition to being safer, a swing away support will assist in minimizing mailbox damage from snowplowing, thereby reducing damage claims and saving taxpayer’s dollars.
The City of Baxter, Minnesota, finds that it is in the best interest of the residents of the city to assume basic responsibility for control of snow and ice on city streets. Reasonable ice and snow control is necessary for routine travel and emergency services. The city will attempt to provide such control in a safe and cost effective manner, keeping in mind safety, budget, personnel, and environmental concerns. The city will use city employees, equipment and/or private contractors to provide this service. This policy does not relieve the operator of private vehicles, pedestrians, property owners, residents and all others that may be using public streets, of their responsibility to act in a reasonable, prudent and cautious manner, given the prevailing street conditions.
When will city start snow or ice control operations?
The Public Works Director or his or her designee will decide when to begin snow or ice control operations. The criteria for that decision are:
- Snow accumulation of two (2) inches or more;
- Drifting of snow that causes problems for travel;
- Icy conditions which seriously affect travel; and time of snowfall in relationship to heavy use of streets;
- Local weather forecasts (before beginning snow or ice control operations
Snow and ice control operations are expensive and involve the use of limited personnel and equipment. Consequently snowplowing operations will not generally be conducted for snowfall of less than two (2) inches.
How snow will be plowed?
Snow will be plowed in a manner so as to minimize traffic obstructions. The center of the roadway will be plowed first. The snow shall then be pushed from left to right on two-way streets. On one-way streets or where there is a center boulevard, snow may be pushed in either direction. The discharge shall go onto the boulevard area of the street. In times of extreme snowfall, streets will not always immediately be able to be completely cleared of snow.
Priorities and schedule of streets to be plowed
The city has classified city streets based on the street function, traffic volume and importance to the welfare of the community. The “Snow Plow Routes” of each operator are set by priorities of the street. The first priority streets are high volume routes, which connect major sections of the city and provide access for emergency fire, police, and medical services. The second priority streets are those streets providing access to schools and commercial businesses. The third priority streets are low volume residential streets. The fourth priorities are city parking lots and trails.
During significant and severe storms, the city must be prepared to move personnel and equipment to maintain priority routes first. In fulfilling the need to have all priority streets safe and passable, when resources are limited, plowing of all other streets may be stopped at any time so resources can be shifted to priority routes.
Unforeseeable circumstances may cause delays in completing assigned plow routes. Such circumstances may include weather conditions that endanger the safety of snowplow operators and/or safe and effective operation of equipment, commuter traffic, disabled vehicles, poor visibility conditions, assistance to emergency response vehicles, equipment breakdown, and personnel shortages.
Work schedule for snowplow operators
Snowplow operators will be expected to work eight-hour shifts. In severe snow emergencies, operators sometimes have to work in excess of eight-hour shifts. However, because of budget and safety concerns, no operator shall work more than a twelve-hour shift in any twenty-four hour period. Operators will take a fifteen-minute break every two hours with a half-hour break after four hours. After a twelve-hour shift, the operators will be replaced if additional qualified personnel are available.
The City recognizes that snowplow operators are exempt from traffic regulations set forth in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 169 while actually engaged in work on streets, except for regulations related to driving while impaired and the safety of school children. Pursuant to this authority, snowplow operators engaged in snow removal or ice control on city streets have discretion to disregard traffic laws set forth in Chapter 169, except for laws relating to impaired driving and school children safety, when in their judgment, it is safe to disregard such laws. The privileges granted herein to operators of snow removal and ice control vehicles shall apply only if the vehicle is equipped with one lighted lamp displaying a flashing, oscillating, or rotating amber light placed in such a position on the vehicle as to be visible throughout an arc of 360 degrees.
Snow and ice control operations will be conducted only when weather conditions do not endanger the safety of snowplow operators and equipment. Factors that may delay snow and ice control operations include: severe cold, significant winds, and limited visibility.
Use of sand, salt, and other chemicals
The City uses straight salt and/or salt-sand mixture (80/20) on City road surfaces. The City does not maintain a bare pavement policy. However, the City’s re-plowing and scraping practices often create bare pavement conditions with the exception of 0 °F or below weather. The city will use sand and salt when there is hazardous ice or slippery conditions. The city is concerned about the effect of any chemicals on the environment and will limit its use for that reason.
The City will maintain some of the trail system in the city as deemed necessary by the city council, snow accumulation and available resources. As there are a limited number of personnel available, the city will maintain these trails at the same time or after the streets have been plowed.
Coming into contact with a mailbox is a common obstacle snowplow operators face during storm activities. The city will conduct a review of each mailbox incident to determine whether the city will replace the mailbox support with a conforming mailbox support. Only mailboxes actually hit by a snowplow will be the responsibility of the city. The city will not be responsible for damage to mailboxes or support posts caused by snow or ice coming into contact with the mailbox. At the mailbox owner’s request, the city will replace the mailbox with a standard size, non-decorative metal mailbox and replace the support post with a conforming mailbox support post, both installed by the city.
Complaints will be recorded on telephone logs. Calls requiring service will be transferred to a work request and forwarded to the appropriate supervisor for scheduling. Emergency complaints will be handled in an expeditious manner as resources are available.
Deviation from policy The Public Works Director or his or her designee may deviate from this policy when in his or her judgment it is in the best interest of the city or is necessary because of budget needs or other circumstances. Changes in priorities (lasting more than 4 hours) will be documented as to what caused such actions, why the change was necessary, and for how long the change is to be in effect. Those city employees and/or contractors affected will be notified immediately by radio or cell phone of such changes with all communications logged. Information logged will include the time and date of the communication, name of employee contacted, and how they were contacted. Any changes of priorities lasting more than 24 hours should be made in a written record and the public should be informed of such changes through normal methods used by the city for emergency notifications.
Review and modification of policy The Public Works Director or his or her designee shall keep on file all comments and complaints received regarding this policy. The policy will be reviewed periodically. Any review will consider comments and complaints since the last review and any other factors affecting the policy or its implementation.