The City fields many questions and complaints about snow and ice in Colstrip. I want to share the following information with the community as a whole.

When will my street get plowed or sanded?

The Public Works Department does not have a dedicated “street crew”. Taking care of the streets is only one of the many jobs that are performed daily which include Refuse Collection and operating and maintaining a large Water and WasteWater Treatment infrastructure. The City consists of over 22 miles of streets covering 6 square miles. The City simply doesn’t have the resources to keep all streets clear at all times during snowfalls. There are a large amount of vehicles parked on the streets which create a safety issue for the public as well as the Public Works crew. This causes delays in plowing some of these areas and some may simply not get plowed at all. Because our resources are so limited, hauling snow away from our streets is not an option. Because the equipment required in taking care of our streets gets worked very hard, keeping it maintained and running during these storms can be a real challenge and some delays are simply caused by mechanical breakdowns.

The Public Works Department, has set up a priority system, however, the time required to clear the roads also depends on conditions such as the snowstorm intensity, duration and temperature. The city’s priorities are based on school bus routes, emergency services, and the most heavily used streets. 

Priority 1 are the city’s main arterials, which include Pine Butte Drive, Power Road, Willow Avenue, Olive Drive, Homestead Boulevard, Castle Rock Lake Drive, Lakeview Court and Main Street.  When we have storms with large amounts of snow these streets are plowed several times during the day and evening.

Priority 2 streets are completed next, which include Cherry Street, Currant Drive, Spruce Street, Box Elder Avenue, Poplar Drive, Browning Drive, Cimarron Drive, Laramie Circle, Piedmont Drive, Vista Drive, Chisholm Drive, Chinook Drive, Prospector Drive, Zane Grey Circle, Appaloosa Drive, Cheyenne Drive, Sweetgrass Drive, Prairieview Drive, and Antelope Drive. All remaining streets and cul de sacs are plowed as time allows which may be 2 or 3 days following a snow event.

Why does the City plow snow onto my sidewalk or driveway when I’ve already cleared it?

We understand that this situation frustrates many residents when it occurs. Rest assured, we do not do this intentionally. To remove snow from the streets, the snow must be moved to the side. Changing the angle of the blade would leave snow in the street. Although many residents shovel their sidewalks early, our plows often come through after that time especially in residential areas, based on our priority system. Clean up and widening operations may take place for several days after a storm depending on the severity of the weather. We’re sorry for the inconvenience, but hope you appreciate our efforts to keep the roads passable.

What are my responsibilities regarding snow removal?

Property owners, including residents and businesses, are responsible for clearing their sidewalks of ice and snow after the snow has stopped falling. If the snow or ice is so hard it is difficult to remove, property owners may use sand or another abrasive material on the sidewalk to make it reasonably safe until the weather permits clearing the walkway. Residents may also need to clear snow from their driveways and curbs to make them passable.

What if I have an emergency and my street isn’t plowed?

As in any emergency, call 911. Emergency agencies are in contact with our Public Works staff during storm conditions and can ask to divert snow plowing equipment if necessary.

What can I do to help?

There are several steps community members can take to help ensure their safety during winter storm conditions, including the following:

Do not drive unless necessary.

Snow is a fact of life in Montana so have your car adequately prepared with snow tires or chains.

Drive at reduced speeds, brake slowly and leave extra space between vehicles.

Maintain a safe distance from snow plowing equipment, pass plows with extreme caution, and watch for abrupt snow plow movements.

Do not park along snow routes and in residential areas move vehicles off the street if possible.

When possible residents should help seniors or physically challenged people who need assistance with snow removal. Help your neighbors to clear the snow in your area, and consider volunteering to help community members who are elderly or physically unable to clear their driveways and sidewalks.

I would like to thank all residents and let you know I appreciate your patience and understanding when the Public Works Department performs these duties.

Bryan Swan

Public Works Director

 City Ordinance No. 03-01 requires that from November 1st through April 1st snowmobiles, boats, recreational vehicles, campers, camper trailers, motor homes, utility trailers, sport vehicles, passenger buses, ATV’s and overhead campers may not be parked on city streets or city property for a period longer than forty-eight hours (2 days).camper

The storage of such vehicles on city streets impede traffic and make it difficult and unsafe for snow plowing, garbage collection and street cleaning.

Violation of this ordinance is punishable under the general misdemeanor provision of the Colstrip City Code.

Jan Morgan

Code Enforcement Officer

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