This page contains answers to the most commonly asked snow plowing and winter road condition questions. Please look through these questions first before calling. During storms, we are often too busy to take time to give complete explanations. These answers will help you to better understand the snow removal policies and procedures.
- Which entity is responsible for my road?
Although located in Lincoln County, not all roads are maintained by the Lincoln County Highway Department. View a map of roads (PDF) in Lincoln County that the Lincoln County Highway Department is responsible to clear.
- My car got towed during a snow event, why?
If your vehicle has become disabled in a snow event and you have arrangements made to remove it, please contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office with your vehicle information and location. If a vehicle is presenting an immediate danger to other motorists, inhibiting traffic, or snow removal, Lincoln County can call to request the vehicle be towed. If your vehicle has been towed during an event, please contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 605-764-5651 for further information.
- How many vehicles and personnel are involved in snow removal?
Currently, there are 16 employees dedicated to snow removal during a snow event.
Lincoln County is responsible for 290 miles of blacktop and 44 miles of gravel roads. Lincoln County runs 14 trucks and two motor graders for snow removal. We currently have 14 snow removal routes.
Time to Clear
To clear both sides of the road, it takes approximately 3 hours for a truck to run one complete round on each route. The Highway Department averages 10 to 14 hours per day for snow removal. The hours are determined by the severity of the snow event.
- Why is there a snow plow parked somewhere instead of plowing?
Our operators work long hours during a snow event. Due to the complexity and stress of the job, our drivers are required to take periodic breaks to ensure their safety and that of the public. Working for long periods of time without a break can be hazardous for everyone.
- What can I do to support the county's plowing effort?
During a snow event, it is always recommended to travel only if necessary. If you must travel, check conditions in advance through safetravel U.S.A., and always allow extra time to arrive at your destination. Always let someone close to you know when you will be travelling, your expected estimated time of arrival, your route, and that you’ve arrived at your destination safely.
- Can Lincoln County tow my car out of the ditch?
Unfortunately, Lincoln County cannot be responsible for pulling your car from the ditch. Doing so could cause damage to county equipment or to your personal vehicle. Our operators are equipped with radios and have the ability to report an accident or situation to emergency personnel.
- Why are gravel roads sometimes left unplowed?
Gravel roads are secondary to paved roads. We will get them cleared as soon as possible.
- Why can't you plow my road now?
We wish we had enough snowplows and drivers to take care of every road right away, but resources are limited and so we must adhere to a carefully laid out system for clearing the roads. If we allowed our plows to be diverted each time a special request was made, our system would not be effective and it would take longer to get all of the roads cleared. To keep snow removal operations effective and efficient, plows are not permitted to deviate from their assigned routes.
- Can I push my snow into the roadway for the snowplow to clear?
Ordinance 0604-13 -
Lincoln County’s nuisance ordinance prohibits the pushing or piling of snow onto a county road, county highway or county right-of-way. These piles of snow can cause serious injuries or fatalities if hit by a vehicle. They also cost the county funds to remove or push back. Because they can become very solid, and at times contain debris; snow piles can cause serious damage to county snow removal equipment. Any violation of the county ordinance is punishable by 30 days in jail and a $200 fine.
- Can you tell me exactly when my road will be plowed?
Each snowplow has an assigned route. Hours are adjusted according to the significance of the weather event. As weather conditions change, we may need to alter our routes in the midst of operations in order to control drifting snow, ice, or other special problems. We cannot give you an estimate of when your road will be cleared due to changing weather conditions.
- Why don't the trucks plow and salt on the way to their routes?
Each snowplow has an assigned route. If the trucks spread salt on their way to their destination, then they wouldn’t have enough to spread along their own route. Plowing along the way wold mean it would take much longer until the truck reaches its assigned route.
- Why do you sometimes salt instead of plow, or plow instead of salt?
Different types of storms require the use of different techniques.
- The decision whether to salt or plow depends upon the predicted weather conditions. For example, if the temperature is below 20 degrees and not expected to rise, salt will not be effective. If the sun is shining and the temperature is 20 degrees or more and expected to remain steady or to rise, then salt would be more effective.
- The decision whether to plow or salt is made with great consideration and based on the latest weather information available. Plowing under the wrong conditions can create a polished road surface, resulting in dangerous glare ice.
High winds can cause a precarious situation. Adding salt/sand to drifting conditions can seriously increase the buildup of snow and ice on a roadway making it more treacherous. At times, the best action would be to limit the amount of salt/sand as to prevent heavy drifting and snow/ice buildup. The decisions made by experienced crew and supervisory personnel are critical under these conditions.
- I have a medical condition. Can you plow my road in case there is an emergency and an ambulance needs to get through?
The potential for a medical emergency does not warrant priority treatment. Anyone needing an ambulance in a medical emergency should dial 911 and all necessary steps will be coordinated to get emergency personnel to you.
- When I called the Highway Department number to find out about conditions, the line was busy.
During a severe weather event, our department is understandably very busy. We advise limiting your travel, or staying off of the roads entirely. Check your television or radio for local weather and road conditions. Check with Safe Travel USA for more detailed road conditions.
Our office personnel will not have the latest road conditions. Our phone lines should only be used primarily to alert us of a special problem relating to the snow removal operations during a severe weather event.
- The plow hit my mailbox during the last snow event. What can I do? Who can I contact about this?
If your mailbox was damaged or knocked over during a snow event by the snow plow, our apologies. Please wait until the event has passed and contact the Highway Department Secretary at 605-764-5841.
- The plow was hitting my car with sand while I was following it. What can I do about this?
Safety is our number one concern. As with any truck, if you are not able to see the operator in his driver side mirror, then the operator may not be able to see you. Following the plow too closely can have deadly results.
Please give our operators space to work at a minimum safe following distance of 50 feet or better to allow for the dispersal of salt and sand. Please allow extra room at all stop signs as well as the operator may need to dispense sand at an intersection or back up to clear the intersection properly. This will help prevent potential damage to your vehicle.
- Why does the plow roll through a stop sign?
Lincoln County plows are considered emergency vehicles. A plow may continue slowly and cautiously through a stop sign depending on how much snow is being pushed as they are unable to get moving again if they are plowing a heavy snowfall. As always, safety is our number one concern. Please allow extra room for a plow to back up if necessary to resume plowing when traffic has cleared a busy intersection.
- Why is the plow moving so slowly?
There are several reasons that the plows operate at slower speeds. At slower speeds, the plow operator is able to clear the lanes more effectively. During a snow event, our plow operators are monitoring several different conditions at one time. The operator is attempting to try to clear as closely to the center line as possible and may occasionally cross the center line due to decreased visibility. This leaves a very slim margin of error.
The operator must also pay attention to the need to distribute sand/salt as needed as well as monitor oncoming traffic, mailboxes, and other obstacles that may come up. The operator is required to do this during a time of severely reduced visibility.
- Why are the operators blocking intersections and roads to clear snow?
At times, road conditions warrant the use of sand, but can actually make driving conditions more hazardous later. During and after a weather event, sand, wind, and increased traffic flow can exacerbate snow and ice buildup by packing it down to the point that a plow is no longer effective. This can be a very dangerous situation for traffic. The highway department then has no choice but to use large equipment to remove snow and ice buildup to improve the condition of a road.
At times it is absolutely necessary to temporarily block intersections and roads for cleaning to ensure the safety of the public. These roads are only blocked or slowed for long enough to get them cleared. It is always a good idea to allow extra time when travelling so that you can adjust for changing road conditions and cleanup efforts after an event.