Snow Plan

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The City of Loveland averages 40 inches of snowfall annually and maintains 365 miles of roadway. The City’s present snow fighting policy is to provide maximum service on major arterials and select collector streets that comprise the central roadway network needed to move the majority of the City’s traffic in an orderly and safe manner as well as to provide access for emergency personnel. 

Citizens have a part in snow removal as well, residents are required to shovel sidewalks within 24 hours of the storm ending. They need to open up their own driveways as well, after the plow truck passes by, if the windrow is too thick to drive over. Able-bodied residents are strongly encouraged to assist elderly and disabled neighbors in opening up their driveways for them. The City’s volunteer “Snow Squad” provides another possibility for securing assistance.

To provide a higher level of service on all City streets would be a major commitment of resources and funding not justified based on Loveland’s historical climatic weather conditions.

Snow Plowing Approach

We depend heavily on weather forecast data to develop a specific and unique snow fighting strategy for each storm. When storms materialize differently than what was forecast, in-the-moment adjustments are made as best as possible.

Loveland’s approach for maintaining our roadway transportation network during/after snow events is reflective of common practices across Front Range cities, roads are categorized into three winter maintenance priorities: arterials, collectors, and residentials. In continual pursuit of excellence, cities along the Front Range regularly review and compare operations to employ new and better methods.

As noted above, the City has established priorities to make the most efficient use of snow removal resources. The established priorities are as follows:

Snow Priority ArcGIS online interactive map and link

Please click on the map to see the detail of Priority 1 and Priority 2 roadways.

The backbone of our roadway snow removal fleet consists of 16 large trucks equipped with plows and chemical applicators [three liquid and 13 granular]. Also in the roadway snow removal fleet are four large pickup trucks with plows, two front-wheel loaders, and one road grader. Available for additional support, as described in #8 below, are 11 trash-truck plows. Our fleet is operated by personnel from our Streets Maintenance, Stormwater Maintenance, Solid Waste and Traffic Operations teams. Because departmental staffing resources do not fulfill operational needs, Public Works staff is supplemented by Water and Power personnel. Also on the job are fleet support personnel who work diligently to keep every piece of equipment up and running 24/7 to maximize City resources. These dedicated employees work around the clock no matter what day of the year or time of day to fulfill this critical function.

Priority 1 streets are the four lane arterial streets which carry the most traffic, plus important two lane thoroughfares. Examples include 14th Street SW, Taft Avenue, and US WY 287.

Most of our resources (drivers, snowplows and deicing chemicals) are first devoted to making our arterial roads as safe as possible since they carry the greatest number of travelers driving at the highest speeds. Arterials are repeatedly plowed and de-iced with chemicals until we have mostly bare pavement across all travel lanes. Only then do we move onto collector snow removal routes.

Downtown Snow Cleanup
Snow Removal on Sidewalks
Join the Snow Squad!
Other Ways to Help Your Community

Anti-icing versus Deicing

Applying chemicals before snow begins freezing to the pavement is called “anti-icing”. Anti-icing is important because it requires far less resources (chemicals, snowplow trucks, drivers, etc.) to achieve the goal of having bare pavement on our Priority One routes. Making the call on when to anti-ice and what volumes of chemical to apply requires an analysis of the forecast for weather and pavement temps, as well as the application rate charts. Anti-icing must be used thoughtfully as it can temporarily cause slippery conditions at the storm’s initial onset. If the forecast for snow does not materialize, the slippery conditions present a hazard that we try to avoid for the safety of the traveling public and our emergency responders. When a road-freezing event is eminent, anti-icing crews apply anti-icers to our Priority One roads to prevent or delay the bonding of snow/ice to the pavement. A weakened bond means our snowplows can scrape off more snow/ice with each pass, so less chemical is needed overall. By contrast, if we routinely wait to apply the chemical until after snow/ice has already started to freeze tight to the pavement, then a lot more is needed to finally penetrate through the ice bond to loosen it enough so that our plows can begin to slowly carve away more snow/ice. This deicing and plowing cycle must be repeated over and over until we finally achieve bare pavement. While proper anti-icing is a proactive and preferred approach, de-icing will always prove to be necessary during the coldest winter months for effective storm management. Below certain pavement temperatures, no chemical or material is effective against snow bonding to pavement.

Anti-icing/De-icing Chemicals 

The City of Loveland uses two different types of ice-melting chemicals for winter road safety – one is a liquid product called Meltdown Apex and the other is a granular product called Ice Slicer. Both of these products are used for anti-icing and de-icing operations.

Meltdown Apex is a water-based brine comprised of magnesium chloride [MgCl-2] treated with additives. These additives reduce the product’s corrosiveness by 72% when compared to straight magnesium chloride brine. Apex also melts ice across a wider and lower range of pavement temperatures than other commonly used liquid deicers. It is these two qualities that make Apex a much better environmental choice for Loveland when compared to other commonly used liquid road de-icing products.

Ice Slicer is our granular de-icing product. It is often mistaken for sand because it is naturally reddish-colored and is quite visible against a snow-covered road surface. As a complex chloride [92-98% magnesium, sodium and potassium chlorides], Ice Slicer is a “hotter” ice melter than regular white salt. Traditional rock salt stops melting ice at pavement temperatures of 17 degrees F; Ice Slicer works at pavement temperatures near 0 degrees F. Additionally, Ice Slicer has tested out to be 70% less corrosive than regular white salt using the ASTM B-117 lab testing protocol. It is these two qualities that make Ice Slicer a much better environmental choice for Loveland when compared to the more commonly used road salt used by other road-maintenance agencies.

Safety and consequences ,not cost, are our top considerations when choosing what chemical deicers to use. Products used by the City are:

  • less harmful to our natural environment (waterways, vegetation, air quality, humans, wildlife)
  • less harmful to our built environment (vehicles, bridges, concrete structures, pavements)
  • more effective and efficient at melting snow and ice across a broader range of pavement temperatures.