Keeping Edmonton streets in safe winter driving condition
The City is committed to providing snow and ice control that will make it possible for commuters, transit users and those moving commercial goods to travel more safely. In any given snow event, the City has a priority system to keep traffic flowing smoothly:
- Freeways, arterial roads, business districts and bus lanes
- Collector/bus routes, Transit Park and Ride access roads
- Local industrial roadways
- Residential streets and alleys (blading to level snow pack)
Find Out When
See when your neighbourhood is scheduled for blading.
- During snow events, after the arterial and collector road network has been plowed and considered to be in a safe condition, a city-wide neighbourhood blading program will be initiated.
- Neighbourhood roads will be bladed to a 5cm snow pack condition (not down to asphalt). Alleys will be bladed prior to front streets to provide improved access to off road parking options (garages, parking pads).
- This service level will only involve the blading of snow.
- Seasonal parking bans on bus routes are put into effect when there's significant snowfall. Minimum of 8 hours notice will be given.
Snow plowing begins on the main roads when 3cm of snow has accumulated on the roadway and the weather forecast calls for continued snowfall.
- The City sands roads and walkways as required.
- There are 133 sanding trucks and 20 sidewalk plows that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from October to April.
- The initial response to a snowfall is to apply abrasive street sand and de-icers, to provide traction.
Edmonton is one of the lowest salt users of major cities in Canada. We use a combination of coarse sand, limestone, liquid calcium chloride and salt to provide traction during the winter season.
- Salt accounts for only 12% to 18% of the total materials applied to the roads.
- As the temperature drops and salt is less effective, the percentage of salt in the mix is reduced.
- Edmonton has a Salt Management Plan and reports on our salt usage annually to both Environment Canada and Alberta Environment.
- The City has partnered with the U of A on research into the impact of winter maintenance of roadside trees.
In 2014/15, Roadway Maintenance used:
- 92,913 tonnes of street sand (100% recycled material)
- 21,194 tonnes of salt
- 30,971 tonnes of rock chips
- 185,480 litres of calcium chloride
The City recovers the street sand used during their winter road maintenance program. The City’s street sand recycling process is the largest and most successful program of its kind in North America. The street sand recycling program reduces waste entering landfills, saves money and raises the bar for environmental standards for cities using street sand.
- Street sand is picked up and cleaned from approximately 5,430 km of roads each spring.
- Edmonton uses approximately 150,000 – 180,000 tonnes of street sand each winter.
- The City picks up approximately 70% of the sand placed during the winter and approximately 80% of the sand that is picked up is re-used.
Sand recycling saves the City money with reduced truck travel, purchasing less new sand and reducing the amount of waste entering the landfill.
Sand Recycling Process
Recycling street sand is a step by step process that removes litter, salt and hydrocarbons from the reusable sand:
- City crew’s clear sand off of main road boulevards and street sweepers pick up the sand on all City roads each spring.
- A vibrating screen sorts the sand and removes litter and debris.
- The sand is washed to remove salt and hydrocarbons.
- The sand is then dried using a cyclone, which spins the sand to remove most of the water.
- The sand is then stored to continue drying before the finished product is re-used.
Severe Snowfall Event
The City can initiate a severe snowfall response if there is a snowfall of 30cm or more that threatens the mobility of the roadway network.
The focus of the City’s response will be to restore immediate mobility, not to address roadway capacity. The severe snowfall response includes:
- Deployment of all available resources to ensure mobility of the roadway network
- Declaration of an overnight parking ban on all residential roads
- Plowing to bare pavement on residential roads
In addition, the Severe Snow Event team will be immediately engaged and the crisis communications plan executed.
The Severe Event Team includes operational and communications representatives from Transportation, Transit, 311, Emergency Services, Edmonton Police Service, Drainage, Waste, Bylaw Enforcement and Council Services.
In the event of an extreme winter storm that causes the closure of a significant portion of the roadway network, the City Manager, at his discretion, can declare a snow emergency.
Such a declaration will activate the Emergency Operations Centre. In this event, all control of snow clearing activities will be coordinated through the Emergency Operations Centre and will focus on providing mobility for emergency and essential services only until general mobility of the roadway network can be restored.
The City clears snow from sidewalks adjacent to city owned land within 48 hours to meet the requirement of Community Standards Bylaw #14600. It is the property owner’s responsibility to do the same at sidewalks adjacent to their property.
Report a Problem
Sidewalks, shared-use path and other walkable areas not maintained?
Call 311 to report it. We appreciate your help in reporting problems as you encounter them.
Snow fencing prevents blowing snow from becoming a problem on roadways. The City fences snow along certain roads as part of the Winter Road Maintenance program.
- Snow is removed from arterial roadways and bus routes when the driving width or parking area restricts safe movement.
- Snow will be removed from business districts as required.
- Crews also clear snow from bridge walkways, stairways, bus stops, fire hydrants, curb ramps and crosswalks.
- Increased snow removal will continue around schools through the “windrow free zones”.
A windrow is a pile of snow on the side of a road that was created by plowing or blading.
- Windrows less than 30cm that block driveways are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner; more than 30cm will be cleared by the City.
- They won’t be hauled away in residential areas.
- Crews will follow neighbourhood blading trucks as needed.
- Windrows will create loss of on-street parking for residents.
- Residents are encouraged to park their vehicles on their driveways, parking pads, or in garages.
Winter Driving Tips
Drivers are reminded that although roads are plowed and sanded, driving to the current road conditions is their responsibility.
- Please allow for extra time to arrive at your destination.
- Leave sufficient room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you for braking.
- Watch for windrows.
- Be careful when approaching slow moving plowing equipment.
- Give wide berth to sanding and plowing equipment.
- It is dangerous to attempt to pass a sander from the rear.
- Stay 8 meters behind sanding trucks.