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Clearing the snow from Johnson County roads

By Kevin Braddock
Maintenance Superintendent for Johnson County Secondary Roads

 JOHNSON COUNTY– Winter doesn’t officially begin until Dec. 22, but as Iowans, we know the snow and ice can come well before then. Now is a good time to remind residents of the Johnson County Secondary Roads Department’s Snow Removal Policy, available on the Secondary Roads web page at www.johnson-county.com.
With more than 900 miles of roads to maintain, the department sets priorities outlined in the policy: Generally, clearing all paved and oiled roads is a top priority. Gravel roads with residents come next, especially the main Farm-to-Market routes; in this category, dead-end roads are cleared last. Gravel roads with no residences and dirt roads are the last priority and may not be plowed.
Initial efforts are focused on getting a one-lane access open to residences as soon as possible during daylight hours after a storm has subsided. After one-lane travel is possible to residences, subsequent snow removal is carried on only during normal working hours.
Roads then are opened to two-way traffic, and abrasive materials like sand or salt may be applied to portions of paved and oil roads as necessary and as materials allow. Intersections, hills and curves are a top priority.
Roads may be plowed out of sequence if doing so allows for more efficiency or overall progress. Roads that are oiled or partially oiled only, as the result of a formal or informal agreement with the county, may be treated as though they are gravel roads.
Snow removal units, including those applying abrasive materials like sand or salt, normally operate only during daylight hours, or shortly before daylight, Monday through Friday, approximately 4 a.m. through 6 p.m. Whenever possible, operations are confined to normal work hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Saturdays, Sundays or holidays, the normal level of service will be implemented if conditions warrant.
Only in the case of an emergency, as defined by the county’s snow removal policy, will snow removal units operate from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. In the event of a severe storm with extreme drifting, all roads will be opened to one-way traffic until all rural residences have a way out. Then plowing will continue to develop two-way traffic. There is no time limit after a storm subsides within which any portion of the policy will be implemented.
Snow removal units normally begin operation after an accumulation of two inches of snow for paved and oil roads and four inches for gravel roads or when the accumulation of snow has ended, whichever occurs later.
Residents frequently have questions about the following sections of Johnson County’s Snow Removal Policy:
• From Section II C: “Property owners shall not push snow from their driveways or property in general onto the County right-of-way, including the roadway, shoulders or any adjacent sidewalk/trail. Property owners acting in violation of this policy may be cited for a violation of Iowa Code Section 318.3 regarding obstructions in highway right-of-way. The County shall not be responsible for snow pushed or otherwise placed on the roadway or shoulders by others.”
• Section IV A: (Rural Mailboxes) “The County shall not pay for or replace mailboxes damaged as a result of snow removal unless actual contact is made by County equipment. Residents should mark mailboxes in drift prone areas to help road workers avoid them. Claims for damage are to be submitted to the Secondary Roads Department within 48 hours to be considered for payment or repair.”
During regular business hours, contact the Johnson County Secondary Roads department at 319-356-6046 or kbraddock@co.johnson.ia.us with questions or concerns about snow and ice removal, or other issues related to County roads. For emergency calls or questions outside normal business hours, call the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at 319-356-6020.