Snow and Ice Frequently Asked Questions
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.
What is the fee/fine for not clearing my sidewalk?
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) Click here for more information about sidewalk snow clearing.
How do I know if my property has been posted?
As a courtesy, the Forestry Services Technician will post a notification when possible. You can sign up for email notifications at eNotify and select Location Based Subscriptions. Violations can be found and paid online in the Land Management System (LMS).
What if I can't shovel my walk?
The City of Milwaukee has a snow hardship program for elderly or disabled property owners in single family homes. The property owner would be charged for each snow removal occurrence.
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 addres alternate side parking and intersection cleanup. Requests can be entered online or you can call 414-286-CITY (2489). 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.
Why did I see a truck driving in snow with its blade up?
There are many reasons a truck may have been driving with its blade up. When driving to or from their route locations or maintenance facility they need to travel with their blade up or they would have to drive slower and wear out the plow blade when not on routes. Our trucks may also be utilizing an underbody blade used for smaller snowfall amounts or distributing salt or other de-icing materials.
What are the parking rules in winter?
Winter Parking rules are located online. Vehicles must be legally parked and in compliance with all posted signs. During a DPW Operation utilize alternate side parking from 11pm-6am. During a Snow Emergency parking is not allowed on highways and mass transit routes, plus drivers must utilize alternate side parking from 10pm-6am.
How do I find out if there is a DPW Operation or Snow Emergency?
Sign up for Winter Parking email or text message alerts at E-Notify or visit the Snow Operation Information Website.
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.