Cambridge City Views: Cambridge’s snow removal questions answered

The snowy weather the last couple of weeks has triggered a number of questions concerning the city of Cambridge’s rules concerning the removal of snow that has just fallen on your sidewalk or driveway. Here are a few of the questions that are most frequently asked. 

For a complete list of the ordinances concerning snow and ice removal requirement within the city limits, please access the city website at www.ci.cambridge.mn. Or call Public Works at (763) 689-1800. 

What happens when it starts to snow?

Crews monitor the conditions and apply salt and sand to intersections and bridge decks as needed. Once the snow depth approaches a depth of 3” or more the streets are plowed and once again salted and sanded.

Why do certain streets get more attention than other streets?

Some streets have been designated snow emergency routes. These streets are important because they provide a route to and from critical locations within the city – hospital, schools, businesses, neighborhoods.

Why do they plow my driveway closed after I just cleaned it out?

Crews plow 61 miles of streets and each plowing event averages 5 hours to plow from curb to curb. The timing of the snowfall does not always allow staff to finish plowing before the driveways are cleared. 

Why can’t I park on the street overnight? 

There are overnight parking restrictions in place every winter. No resident is allowed to park on a city street between the hours of 2-7 a.m. from Nov. 1 – March 30. The regulations have been put in place to facilitate the removal of snow and to allow safe passage of emergency response vehicles.

Am I responsible for keeping my sidewalk shoveled?

If you are in the “Downtown Area” (The boundaries of the downtown area are defined on the city website). Owners and occupants are required to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk adjacent to property prior to 9:30 a.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and shall be removed by 10 a.m. of the same day. City staff will periodically remove snow and ice from downtown sidewalks but only when the amounts exceed 3” in depth.

Snow and ice should be removed at least every four hours or when the accumulation reaches 1” between the following hours:                                                          

Monday through Friday:

- From 8 a.m. or when the business opens (whichever is earlier).

- From 6 p.m. or when the business closes (whichever is later).

Saturday:

- From 8 a.m. or when the business opens (whichever is earlier).

- From noon or when the business closes (whichever is later).

If you are located in the Sidewalk Improvement District, the city of Cambridge staff will remove snow and ice that has fallen and accumulated on sidewalks. The listing of the sidewalks that city of Cambridge staff clears is located on the city website.

If you are not located in the Downtown Area or the Sidewalk Improvement District, then the snow and ice that has fallen or accumulated must be removed within 48 hours by the owner or tenant of the property that abuts the sidewalk.

Am I responsible for keeping the fire hydrant in front of my house clear of snow?

City staff does periodically clear snow in front of fire hydrants, but the fire department would appreciate any assistance from homeowners. The city water system contains 675 fire hydrants, all of which are very important to the fire department. The fire hydrant closest to your residence will be used if you or any of your neighbors should have a fire. The ability to access that hydrant in case of a fire is very important. If each residents clears snow from a nearby hydrant it would ensure that every hydrant is accessible if needed.

Can I ride my snowmobile or ATV on city streets?

Residents are allowed to drive on city streets to enter or exit the city limits or to gain access to a designated snowmobile/ATV trail. The operator is required to drive as close to the right-hand curb or road edge as possible. The operator is not allowed to drive on sidewalks, boulevards or any trail provided for pedestrian travel.

Todd Schwab is the city of Cambridge public works/utilities director. 

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