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Love it or hate it, winter maintenance is an inevitable part of living in PA where we average 30 inches of snowfall per year. Therefore, as the season approaches we must all prepare for what may fall with our winter maintenance team. The North Londonderry Township Highway Department is committed to providing quality and efficient snow/ice removal for every storm. Crews could be out before a storm, applying brine – an anti-ice material, during – to remove what does fall, and after – to make room for any more that may be coming. In the event of multiple large snowfalls over the season, crews will need to push snow piles further back off the roadway to allow for additional storage of forecasted snowfall.
It is imperative that winter maintenance plows have complete access to these areas, i.e. the curb for the purpose of clearing a path for traffic to flow safely and freely. Cars, trash cans, etc. should be moved off the roadway before a storm. Any precipitation left behind may melt and refreeze creating hazardous conditions for motorists and pedestrians.
Plows push snow off the roadway, they do not lift and carry. It is more efficient and easier mechanically which is why residents should practice pushing when shoveling in order to save their backs! This method allows plows to open roads in a more timely manner. Every storm system is unique and presents its own challenges so we adapt and perform operations accordingly. Multiple factors contribute to when we go out for maintenance: time, traffic volume, air and road temperature, depth of accumulation, etc. Forecasts and actual conditions are closely monitored. As previously mentioned, we often pre-treat roadways with salt brine before any precipitation has fallen. This salt by-product delays the formation of frost and ice on pavement, creating that “crust” often left behind, making snow removal easier by letting plows clear right down to the blacktop. It also reduces the amount of salt needed to treat roadways, diminishing costs and pollutants entering natural waterways that lead to drinking water reservoirs.
If you have a driveway, use it. Plow drivers have an obligation to clear as close to the curb as possible, rolling snow into off-street right-of-ways to allow for two lanes of traffic. If you do not have access to off-street parking, we recommend parking all vehicles on the same side of the street to allow for the largest path to be cleared. Cars parked across the street from each other make it very difficult for plows to maneuver clearing just a single path. Alternate sides from one storm to the next, that way one side doesn’t build up snow/ice and street parking remains readily available.
Take notice of storm drain locations. Crews will be around to clear these areas after heavy storms to allow melting snow or rain to enter the storm water system rather than pool in the roadway. If your car is parked near or on top, this task becomes impossible.
Dealing with Winter
Understanding The Forecast
Know how the public is warned (radio, television, social media, etc.) and the warning terms for each kind of broadcast weather alert in your community, for example:
- “Frost/Freeze Warning” – Below-freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to plants, crops or fruit trees.
- “Freezing Rain” – Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
- “Sleet” – Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
- “Winter Weather Advisory” – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
- “Winter Storm Watch” – Be alert, a storm is likely. Severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area but the location and timing are still uncertain. Typically issued 12 to 36 hours ahead of a potential severe storm. Monitor alerts, check emergency supplies, and gather any items you may need if you lose power.
- “Winter Storm Warning” – Take action, the storm is in or entering the area.
- “Blizzard Warning” – Snow and strong winds (35 mph or greater gusts/sustained winds) combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility (less than a quarter mile), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill, seek refuge immediately. Conditions are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
- “Flash Flood or Flood Watch” – Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment’s notice.
- “Flash Flood Warning” – A flash flood is imminent – act quickly to save yourself because you may have only seconds.
- “Flood Warning” – Flooding has been reported or is imminent, take necessary precautions at once.
- Store drinking water, first-aid kit, canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener, radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily even in the dark.
- Have snow shovels, rock salt, sand and other snow removal equipment on hand.
- Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
- Create a Family Communication Plan so that members know how to contact and get back together if all are not accounted for at the time of a storm.
- Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure everyone at home knows how to use them.
- Check smoke alarm batteries.
- Insulate pipes and know how to shut off water valves if one bursts.
- Have a contractor check the structural ability of your roof to sustain unusually heavy snow or ice accumulation.
- Ensure walls and attics are insulated, doors and windows are caulked or have weather-stripping.
- Clear gutters, repair any roof leaks, and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or neighboring structure.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.
- Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair.
- Winterize your car by checking your car battery, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashers, exhaust, heater, brakes, defroster and tires.
- Ensure your car has adequate anti-freeze, windshield washer fluid and oil and check the levels regularly throughout the winter season.
- Assemble a winter emergency kit for your car that includes a shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, water, snack food, extra hats and gloves, blanket, tow chain or rope, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares, and a fluorescent distress flag.
- Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary during snow and ice events.
- If you must travel by car during a winter weather advisory or winter storm watch, do so in daylight, and don’t travel alone.
- Allow enough space between your vehicle and a snow plow so that winter maintenance can be conducted in a manner that promotes safety for all around.
- Avoid driving during a winter storm warning or blizzard warning.
- Drive only at a speed that conditions permit. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destinantion. Increase your safety distances between vehicles and brake carefully.
- Keep others informed of your schedule and route, and stay on main roads. Charge your phone before your departure. Keep eyes on the roadway.
- Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Make sure you have a hat, gloves, a scarf, and sturdy, waterproof boots for each family member.
Snow Removal At Home
Due to the nature of street clearing, it is unavoidable for plows to keep exposed driveways & sidewalks clear. Though our winter maintenance team makes every attempt to minimize the impact, it is however the property owners responsibility. Snow may not be placed on or pushed across a township street. This is against ordinance §140-13 Letter E of the Township. Ground and air temperatures vary so we must make every effort to keep the roads clear of potential slip hazards for pedestrians and motorists.
There are numerous recommendations available for residents to ease the anguish of plowed in driveway entrances. They are listed below in hopes that one of them is suitable for your future use.
- Do not blow or shovel into the roadway. It will return to your driveway once the plow comes by and it is illegal to deposit onto Township streets.
- Pile snow to the right of your driveway facing the street.
- Leave the last few feet from the roadway untouched until plows have made their final pass.
- Clear an area to the left of your driveway, along the curb line. This allows the current plow accumulation to empty BEFORE your driveway, at least minimizing the size of the berm left behind as it passes.
Any openings created will need to be maintained by clearing what has emptied into them for future storm accumulations. We regret that this is an inescapable result of plowing operations and are grateful for your patience and accomodations.
Recommendations for clearing sidewalks is very similar to that of clearing driveways, see above. Pile snow away from the road so that it does not get pushed back onto the sidewalk or wait until the final pass of the plow to clear. Ordinance §126-28 requires an owner or occupant to clear sidewalks abutting their property within 24 hours of a storm’s end. The area cleared needs to be at least 3 feet wide and run the entire length of the sidewalk.
Prior to winter, residents are encouraged to assess their mailbox and post for stability. Weak or broken components are not capable of withstanding the rigors of snow removal. Their location within the right-of-way makes them susceptible to snow/ice being cast toward them as it leaves a plow blade. Residents are responsible for the repair or replacement of those that may have been impacted and fallen due to this force.
We understand that this is not always the case and a mistake will occur. Most of the time, plow drivers are aware of their mistake and have already alerted their supervisor. North Londonderry Township will repair or replace mailboxes or posts that show proof of a plow strike. Property owners are encouraged to opens in a new windowinstall mailboxes at the maximum usable distance from the edge of the roadway, per local Postmaster requirements.
Stationary Items in the Right-of-Way Pose a Risk
Any other items such as large rocks, basketball nets, brick/stone mailbox enclosures pose a risk when placed in the right-of-way. This area is designed to allow space for crews to work, therefore property owners will be held responsible for these items and Township winter maintenance equipment if damaged.
It is helpful to all emergency personnel: ambulance, firefighters, and police, to be able to access or see what is necessary to respond in an emergency. This could be your house number or a fire hydrant.
We ask residents to assist in digging out a 360° area around fire hydrants so that they are fully accessible for firefighters to lay hose from the hydrant to a fire. Seconds count here when we acknowledge that 150 to 1,000 gallons per minute of water could be used to extinguish a house fire.
Clearing of Roads
Large capacity arterial roads will receive top priority for winter maintenance. From there secondary routes will be attended to then cul-de-sacs (residents should be aware that there could be at least two (2) areas for the placement of cleared snow within the radius of a cul-de-sac). Exceptions, of course, will be made for emergencies issued by dispatchers. Each plow driver is assigned to a route that they must follow to assure efficiency and effectiveness of operations, like a well-oiled synchronized machine. Unfortunately incidents occur where repairs need to be made during a storm, or there is a need for additional fuel or treatment material. At such a time, a truck may be seen with its plow raised. This does not indicate the completion of their route. A roadway must be cleared from curb-to-curb which may require multiple passes, before drivers move on to the next road.
There are a number of PA state roads that cross through North Londonderry Township that do not receive maintenance from our crews. Here’s a list of those roads and a map to see which areas will be maintained by PENNDOT crews.
- West Ridge Road
- East Ridge Road – North Railroad Street to North Forge Road
- North Forge Road – East Ridge Road to Palmyra Bellegrove Road
- Palmyra Bellegrove Road
- Syner Road
- Gravel Hill Road
- Bindnagles Road
- Lingle Avenue
- Campbelltown Road
- South Forge Road
- Route 422
If the road you live on is on this list and there is a concern, contact 1-800-349-7623 or the District Office at (717) 272-6637. Current road conditions around the state can be found at opens in a new window511pa.com.
Please note: Businesses, shopping centers, apartment complexes, and some townhouse developments are privately maintained and are the responsibility of property owners or management companies.
If you happen to reside in a recently developed neighborhood, check with the Developer or HOA to verify how the winter maintenance will be managed. These roadways may be pending dediction of ownership from the Developer to the Township. If the final layer of asphalt is missing from the roadway, the Developer is responsible for road maintenance. The Township cannot provide services on private property.