Snow and Ice Control
Snow season begins Labor Day and ends Memorial Day
City crews work 24/7 to keep Boulder's primary and secondary streets, on-street bike lanes, and frequently used multi-use paths safe and open to traffic during and after snowstorms. Here are some key things you can do to stay informed and be prepared for a snow event.
Need to travel during a snow event?
Whether by car, bus or multi-use paths, plan your route using our interactive snow map.
Changes to the 2017-2018 snow removal program
Change to where snow is plowed on primary streets
In past years, drivers have moved snow to the center of the streets. This practice is called windrowing, which was used to reduce impacts to bike lanes and sidewalks but created safety issues and required drivers to move snow multiple times.
Safety issues with windrowing included emergency vehicles along with cars turning left and getting stuck, and drivers becoming disoriented and driving down the wrong side of the street. The city has discontinued this practice on some primary routes.
What this means for residents and businesses is an overall increase in safety, but there may be some impacts in terms of keeping driveways and sidewalks clear. Snow crews will work hard to continue to keep bike lanes clear even with this change. Sometimes clearing bike lanes may take more than one pass, especially during severe storm events.
City snow plow crews will attempt to avoid placing snow on driveways, although that won’t always be possible. Residents and businesses may need to plan for additional shoveling or plowing if snow is plowed onto driveways, or they may desire to wait until snow crews have completed their first pass before shoveling or plowing.
Critical connections link multi-use paths and on-street bike routes
Staff is working to better connect multi-use paths with on-street bike routes. Staff has reviewed community feedback from past years and looked at high-use bike routes to identify these critical connections. While there are sometimes operational barriers to plowing a particular street—for example, there isn’t enough room for the snow plow to turn around—these critical connections will help make travel safer and easier for people using all modes of transportation.
Severe Weather Shelter
Make it clear within 24 hours: snow and ice removal guidelines for residents
Help make travel safe for everyone! City of Boulder property owners, landlords and tenants are required to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks within 24 hours after snow stops falling. Failure to remove snow from sidewalks before the 24-hour deadline may result in fines and having to pay for a private snow removal contractor. Learn more about Boulder Code Enforcement here.
- Check the National Weather Service snowfall report and look for the last recording of "Light Snow" or "Snow" to determine when your sidewalks need to be cleared.
- Don't plow or shovel snow into any street or alleyway.
- Plows may need to push snow onto curbs and sidewalks to keep the streets clear.
- Report sidewalk violations through InquireBoulder or by calling Code Enforcement at 303-441-3333.
- Contact the Boulder County IceBuster Program (303-443-1933, extension 414) if you need help clearing your sidewalk.
Be Aware of Accident Alerts
During an accident alert, the Boulder Police Department will not respond to vehicular accidents unless there are injuries or alcohol or drugs are involved. If you are in an accident during an alert and no one is injured, move the vehicles out of traffic. Drivers must exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, driver's license numbers, vehicle descriptions and license numbers. Record the date, time, and location of the accident before leaving the scene and then file a report with the Boulder Police Department within 24 hours.
Take Extra Care When Traveling
Whether traveling by car, bike, foot or bus, consider the following reminders:
- Give snow plows and spreader trucks plenty of room to operate.
- Allow for more stopping distance on icy or snowy roads when behind other vehicles, including snow plows and de-icing trucks. Loaded de-icing trucks weigh up to 54,000 pounds, drive slowly and have spinners that distribute materials across two lanes of traffic. Allow for adequate stopping distance and stay at least three to four car-lengths behind to avoid windshield damage.
- Do not pass snow plows or de-icing trucks, which are both wider than one traffic lane. This will help you avoid potential accidents, windshield damage and limited visibility caused by flying snow and ice.
- Consider other transportation options during snowstorms, which helps reduce the number of vehicles on the roadways and gives plow trucks more room to operate.
- See additional safety tips for walking and biking in the snow.
Help Prevent Frozen Pipes
Depending on weather conditions, the snow crews may apply a granular and/or liquid de-icer to help reduce the buildup of snow and ice. Snow crews may also apply an anti-icer before a snow or ice storm to minimize icy road conditions. The city uses alternative de-icing materials instead of rock salt. The liquid de-icer is a magnesium chloride solution, a plant nutrient and soil stabilizer that is less corrosive than other de-icing products. The granular de-icer is made up of complex chlorides that dissolve over time.
The city strives to sweep all primary and secondary streets and on-street bike lanes within three days of a snowstorm to pick up any surplus materials.
Generally, like other Front Range communities, the city does not usually plow side and residential streets since most snow usually melts within a day or two and because side and residential street plowing would significantly increase costs, impacting other high-priority services.
The city began its residential street plowing program during the 2014-2015 snow season, incorporating select streets that were prioritized based on an analysis of residential street slopes. When the forecast calls for eight or more inches of snow or three days of temperatures below freezing, the city deploys two trucks to plow residential streets in 10 predetermined areas with steep slopes or a lot of shade (see map). This residential street plowing program is funded from a 2013 voter-approved tax initiative that provides additional transportation funding from 2014 through 2030.
After priority streets are cleared, snow crews will respond to requests for snow removal as conditions and availability allow. Emergency requests and requests from emergency personnel will be prioritized before other requests. For snow operations queries and requests, visit InquireBoulder or call Snow Dispatch at 303-413-7109 (operational 24/7 during snowstorms).
|Boulder County Road Maintenance||303-441-3962||7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday|
|Boulder County Sheriff Dispatch||303-441-4444||After hours and weekends|
|Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)||303-442-4382||8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday|
|Highway Conditions in the Denver Metro Area||303-639-1111||24/7 recording|
|Residential Street Plowing Program||Snow Dispatch||303-413-7109||Operational 24/7 during snowstorms|
|Snowfall Report||Code Enforcement||303-441-3333||Operational 24/7 during snowstorms|
|Sidewalk Snow and Ice Removal||Code Enforcement||303-441-3333||7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday|
|Assistance with Sidewalk Snow Removal||IceBusters Snow and Ice Removal||303-443-1933 ext. 416||9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday|
Note: The Boulder Creek Path is maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department and the section of the Broadway multi-use path between Regent Drive and University Avenue is maintained by the University of Colorado Facilities Management (303-492-5522.). All other multi-use paths are maintained by City of Boulder Transportation Maintenance or the adjacent property owner.