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Snow and Ice Control Operations

No Snow Emergency


Garbage Truck

There may be delays in collections due to cold temperatures. Carts should be set out on regular collection day until collected. Residents may experience some delays in garbage and recycling collection when there is a Snow and Ice Control Operation. 

All residents must clear snow and ice around, on top of, and to their garbage and recycling carts to create a clear path and serviceable condition for DPW crews.

Snow Shovel

Sidewalks must be clear of snow and ice 24 hours after snow had stopped falling.  Residents SHOULD NOT shovel, blow or plow snow back into the streets. Don't forget to clear corners and fire hydrants if they are next to your property.

Sidewalk snow enforcement requests can be made online or by calling 414-286-CITY, however please do not make requests until the snow has stopped for 24 hours.


Resident Responsibilities

  • Park legally and follow winter and Snow Emergency parking rules. 
    • We do a better job clearing to the curb when parking rules are followed. 
    • Parking farther away from driveways, alleys and intersections allows our equipment to get closer to the curbs. 
  • Sign up for Parking text alerts to know when there is a Snow Emergency. 
  • City ordinances require sidewalks are clear of snow and ice within 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling. Properties will receive a $50 charge for the first violation. 
    • DO NOT shovel, blow or plow snow back into the streets.
    • Properties on corners are required to clear the crosswalk.
    • Try to use the right amount of salt. Shovel More, Salt Less. 
  • Assist neighbors in clearing their snow, particularly those who are elderly/disabled. 
  • Clear your hydrant of snow and ice. 
  • Clear snow and ice around and on top of your garbage and recycling carts. Carts may not be collected and the property may receive a violation if our crews cannot safely access the cart

Driving Tips

  • Stay home; if you can. 
  • Plan your route to stay on main streets as much as possible.
  • Adjust your driving for conditions by slowing down and providing more space for braking.
  • Our trucks need space. Stay back from the trucks salting or brining streets to ensure the product hits the streets instead of your car.
  • Give us time to get to all 7,000 lane miles. When we have more snow, it will take longer to get to every street. Our goal is to get to every street 18-24 hours after the snow has stopped falling, we will continue to do cleanup as needed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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  Why don't you use less salt? Why don't you use more salt?

As our primary goal is public safety, we use salt to achieve that goal, but salt is a pollutant that impacts our water, we try to use only the amount of salt needed to get the job done. Weather is dynamic, so we adjust our salt application rates based on current forecasts and conditions to get the job done. 

SaltWise Video Screenshot

  What are the white lines on the streets in winter?

The lines are salt brine applied to streets as a preemptive measure by salt and tanker trucks. The City of Milwaukee uses brine during Anti-icing operations to prevent slippery roads when frost, freezing fog, or minor snow is forecast or to help prevent snow from bonding to the pavement in advance of heavy snow fall. However, systems that start as rain do not allow for Anti-icing, as the rain washes the brine from the surface. This preventative measure is most frequently used on bridges/elevated surfaces to decrease the amount of salt used and allow treatment during regular hours. We have the capability to brine all 1,475 miles of City streets. Our brine operation was featured on TMJ4 in December 2018.

  Why is snow pushed in front of my driveway and/or on my sidewalk?

Snow plows are designed to push snow to the side.  It is inevitable for snow to be deposited at the end of driveways and on sidewalks during plowing.  To minimize the impact, we recommend piling the snow to the right side of your driveway when facing the street.  The plows make four to six passes down a street to clear it curb to curb which may deposit additional snow after you have shoveled.  Our drivers plow at low speeds to minimize these issues, but this is an inevitable byproduct of plowing which can be exacerbated by higher snowfall amounts and light fluffy snow. 

  Why do some streets have less snow and ice when plowing is done?

There are a number of factors which impact how clear a street will be including; when during the operation it is plowed, the amount of traffic on the road before and after plowing, the pavement temperatures and type of pavement surface.  While we try to provide consistent service some residential streets will be clearer than others.  We assign Route Monitors during Operations to ensure all streets are safe and passable and arterial streets are cleared to bare pavement.

  How long does it take to plow the City of Milwaukee?

Our goal is to have all main and residential streets safe and passable 18-24 hours after the snow has stopped falling.  This goal is impacted by the type and amount of snow and timing of the storm.  Once streets are safe and passable we will continue to address alternate side parking, crosswalks, bus stops, and intersections. 

  Why doesn't the City plow alleys?

Alleys are not public right-of-ways in the same sense that streets and sidewalks are, but are quasi rear driveways that provide access for off-street parking and other public utilities and services, such as garbage and recycling collection.  

  Who do I contact if my neighbor did not clear their sidewalk?

If 24 hours has passed since the most recent snow event, call 414-286-CITY (2489) or you can put in a request online. However, we encourage residents to help their neighbors, particulary if elderly and/or disabled, when possible.

Properties in violation are assessed a special charge of $50. Properties in violation will be posted, when possible, and referred to an abatement contractor on the same day.  If the snow has not been removed from the sidewalk before the contractor arrives, the property owner will be charged for this cost and an additional service charge of $75.  This additional special charge increases to $100 for subsequent violations within the same calendar year.  (City Ordinance 116-8)  

Property owners can sign up for email notifications of Forestry violations at eNotify and select Location Based Subscriptions.  Violations can be found and paid online in the Land Management System (LMS).

  Does the City provide help clearing sidewalks?

No. We encourage residents to talk with neighbors, family, friends, or community organizations for assistance. We do maintain a list of contractors who provide snow removal services. The City does not endorse any of the companies and will annually verify the company is still active. 

  Who is responsible for clearing corners?

The adjacent property owner is responsible for clearing the corner and maintaining clearance. When there are excessive amounts of snow (Snow Emergency), DPW will send special equipment to address the City's ~42,000 corners/crosswalks. This occurs once the streets are safe and passable. As the salt truck operators are also assigned to corner clearing, this part of our operation can be delayed if there is another snow/ice event.

  Why was my street plowed first last year and last this year?

To ensure fairness to neighborhoods, each year we switch which part of the route the plows start on for residential streets. 

  There was a car parked on my street when the plow came through. Will DPW come back to clear the snow to the curb?

After initial plowing has been completed equipment continues to address alternate side parking and intersection cleanup.  Requests can be entered online or you can call  414-286-CITY (2489).  

We do  not take requests when we are actively plowing; as this will slow down the operation and equitable service for residents.Once all residential streets are safe and passable we will address resident requests for additional snow removal.  We will try to clear "parking islands" left behind, but it can be difficult to maneuver the plows into a small space and arrive when vehicles are no longer parked at the curb.  Utilizing alternate side parking helps ensure we can clear the street to the curb efficiently.

  What are the parking rules in winter?

Winter Parking rules are located online. During a Snow Emergency parking is not allowed on highways and mass transit routes, plus vehicles must utilize alternate side parking from 10pm-6am. A limited number of MPS playgrounds also become available for parking. Sign up to recieve text notification of Snow Emergencies. 

  Who is responsible for clearing fire hydrants?

If a fire hydrant is lost or buried in snow firefighters can lose time trying to locate it when they first arrive. Know the location of the fire hydrants in your neighborhood and all residents are responsible to keep them clear after each snowfall. 

Image of hydrant buried in snow, showing snow should be cleared 3ft around the hydrant

  Who clears the snow on the freeway?

Milwaukee County Public Works clears snow on highways and the freeway system and other County/State-owned streets in the City.  A full list of these streets and streets maintained by adjacent municipalities can be found online.

Learn about our Snow and Ice Control Operations

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