Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, December 24, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Will ACHD remove snow mounds created by plows that block pedestrian access? Mother Nature not to blame for icy road conditions near Joplin Road and Ancell Avenue.

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: Last year, plows mounded snow so it blocked people's access to crosswalks, curb ramps and push buttons. This was not snow on sidewalks, rather snow still between the curbs. With all of the new snow management practices in effect this year, does ACHD plan to remove snow mounds created by plows that block pedestrian access or are property owners expected to work in the streets to clear these obstructions?


Road Wizard:

Anyone who has had to summit a snow mound on a street corner to reach a politely shoveled sidewalk can relate. It's a symptom of another uphill battle - finding a location to push the snow plowed from roads.

ACHD's goal is to plow streets from curb to curb on main routes, including bike lanes and shoulders. But the record-breaking snowfall last year made that impossible to maintain in many locations.

Hauling away snow mounds that impact pedestrians is not an option in severe weather. Trucks would have to be taken off plowing/sanding/de-icing duties and reassigned to the chore. It would be a logistical nightmare that would block traffic, plus there really isn't a reasonable "somewhere else" to put the snow. ACHD actually attempted to haul snow from Fairview Avenue years ago and it was a disaster.

It would certainly not be helpful to eliminate snow mounds on streets by using sidewalks as the "somewhere else." Doing that could make the sidewalks unusable unless residents shoveled the plowed snow off of the sidewalks and onto their own property.
By local codes, removing snow from sidewalks is not an ACHD duty - it's the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, even if snow is on the sidewalk because of plowing. ACHD doesn't want to add to that chore if it can be avoided.

In the past, ACHD has mostly relied upon de-icing liquid, rock salt and traction sand to treat snow-covered roads instead of plowing because plowed snow also blocks driveways and mailboxes. Due in part to citizen demand and last year's heavy snowfall, the agency is now using plows more routinely. The priority continues to be keeping snow-covered main routes usable for motorized traffic and emergency vehicles.

Dear Road Wizard: I drive Joplin Road every morning and have noticed active water running down the hill to the canal right at Ancell Avenue. The runoff is more prevalent in the spring and fall but has taken place continually throughout the year. During the colder weather months the water freezes and creates an icy patch. My car has slid on the ice patch. My concern is when the ice forms during the cold weather it can create a hazard. I don't want to see an accident. Isn't run off a major concern?


Road Wizard:

This location is near the Boise WaterShed Environmental Education Center and the wastewater treatment plant, but this water was "shed" well uphill from there.

The water appeared to be coming from a broken waterline, but that is sure a lot of water to lose over several seasons. ACHD and Boise City Code Enforcement contacted the homeowner who addressed the problem, whatever the cause.

ACHD had been monitoring the road through all of this, and at last check the runoff was no longer an issue. It didn't even cause trouble during the recent small-scale snow event or the stretch of below-freezing early-inversion weather.

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