The Street Department divides Hannibal into fourteen (14) sectors for removing snow. Aside from plowing road miles, these areas include three (3) fire stations, the police station, three (3) public parking lots, the airport, and city hall.
During typical snows, the Street Department begins by opening access to emergency buildings (police, fire, etc.). Each truck then begins plowing its sector. Trucks begin each street by opening a lane, then turning around and opening the other lane. Many streets allow a truck to plow its way into a maze of neighborhood streets – single lane only – and then plow the other lane as it retraces its way back out of the neighborhood. Each neighborhood (and road network) is unique. Using their experience, drivers assigned to each sector have adapted their routes to optimize lane miles while minimizing time.
It takes several hours to plow all fourteen (14) sectors of the community. If snowfall continues during snowplow operations, as is often the case, each route must be repeated - perhaps several times. Plowing is s systematic operation, which simply takes time. The city asks that residents be patient. All the streets are eventually plowed.
Most snowplow widths measure less than the width of a street lane. Therefore, the Street Department must return to each area for additional passes, widening a number of narrowly-plowed streets into broader lanes. This goes for intersections as well, which must be cleaned-up for safe turning movements, and the removal of sight obstructions (ie. snow drifts).
Priority #1 is to open streets for traffic. Priority #2 is to clear debris from intersections (debris often created by the plows themselves). Priority #3 is to widen streets to the curb. During large snows, the clearing of safe driving lanes often produces unsafe snowdrifts at roads’ edge. The Department must return and address these areas while widening streets.
Alleys are prioritized last, though alleys that constitute sole vehicular access to people’s homes must be treated as streets – opened during initial street passes. Note, certain alleys are difficult to plow in icy weather; particularly those on steep slopes. Alleys are rarely, if ever, plowed at night; narrow lanes, poor visibility, and no street lighting makes this a very dangerous operation.
Salt spreaders distribute a mixture of salt, sand, and rock – used for both traction and ice melting. The Street Department generally spreads this mixture after snowplowing operations are nearly complete. Spreading this mixture any earlier can be wasteful – it would simply be scraped from the streets by the snowplow on its next pass.
The salt mixture is spread to complete the clearing process. Note, salt is not effective in temperatures below 25+/- degrees Fahrenheit, though its spread to anticipate warming temperatures. Snowplowing efforts alone may not entirely clear all streets - the help of Mother Nature is sometimes required to return the streets to a fully safe condition.
If you have any questions/concerns, feel free to contact the Street Department during normal business hours at 573-221-0111 ext. 216.