Is This Any Way To Plow A Street?

Windrow in downtown Beloit

What's up with the snow in the middle of the street?

This winter has been unusually mild so far, but here in southern Wisconsin we have gotten some snow, including a six-inch storm last Friday.  The Public Works department here in my home town of Beloit does a terrific job of keeping the streets open and in less than 24 hours after the snow stopped, the mains were not only open but clean down to the pavement, curb to curb.

The one area that was the exception: the downtown business district which looked like this the next afternoon.  As sloppy as it looks, there is a method to their madness.

Keeping downtown streets clean presents a challenge that plow drivers don’t have to deal with in other areas.  Anywhere else, they can just plow the snow from the center to the curb and let it fly up onto lawns or into ditches.  That isn’t an option in a traditional downtown profile with storefronts abutting sidewalks which abut the street.

The solution is to plow from the curb to the center and then go back and remove the “windrows” that are created.  This requires, of course, that motorists observe no parking regulations that are in effect during snow emergencies.

Our public works department uses a giant snow blower to suck up the windrows and blow the snow in dump trucks that tag along.  The snow is then dumped in a remote site where it can melt into the ground and make its way back into the environment.  The snow blowing process is impressive to observe but is usually done in the wee hours of the night, so I don’t have photos.

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