|PUBLIC SERVICE DEPARTMENT
WINTER WEATHER OPERATIONS - SNOW REMOVAL
(Click here to view the entire City of Knoxville Snow and Ice Removal Plan in [PDF] format)
SNOW REMOVAL RESOURCES
When it snows, the City of Knoxville's Public Service Department has up to 180 employees and twenty one (21) pieces of equipment available to clear streets and support emergency services (fire/police/EMS). The Public Service Department uses salt, calcium chloride and truck mounted snow plows to clear streets during an event. Sand and other aggregates are also used for some specific applications like the Gay Street Bridge and sidewalks in downtown.
Salt (rock salt or liquid brine) - dissolved salt adds foreign particles into water causing “freezing point depression” and improved melting.
Calcium Chloride - highly affective chemical agent used with salt to increase the melting process even at extremely low temperatures.
Plowing – truck mounted plows are used to move large volumes of snow from primary travel lanes to the edge or side of the street. Plows are very effective during heavy snow events but have little use during light dustings up to an inch or two of snow.
Sand/Aggregates – fine aggregates do little to directly affect the melting process, but sand placed on top of ice and snow adds friction/traction for vehicles and pedestrians. Dark sands will absorb sun light, providing some thermal benefits for melting.
THE SNOW PLAN
When snow falls, the Public Service Department implements a Snow and Ice Removal Plan (The Snow Plan). The Snow Plan is a prioritization system for clearing streets and supporting the public health system (Fire, Police and Hospitals) during snow and ice events. The Public Service Department's ability to clear routes depends heavily on the amount and type of winter weather.
Below is a snapshot of the City's snow response plan:
Street Prioritization System
Level I Streets - Main streets carrying the highest volume of traffic and Hospital Routes
Level II Streets - Streets connecting the main streets, feeder streets to connector streets and common trouble spots and hills
Level III Streets – Streets providing access to neighborhoods and main connections at the neighborhood level. The decision and ability of the Public Service Department to clear Level III routes is based on a number of factors including current weather conditions, salt/chemical reserves and the threat of additional inclement weather.
Depending on conditions and forecasting, Public Service will pre-treat Level I and Level II streets with liquid brine 24-48 hours prior to the start of a winter weather event.When snow begins to cover roads, Public Service crews spread salt and plow all Level I streets and Hospital Routes. Crews also respond to emergency requests for assistance from the E-911 dispatch center. E-911 emergency requests (life safety) are handled as priority calls throughout an entire snow event. Click here for a map of all Level I streets in [PDF] format (this file is 4.5 MB in size).
Crews will continue to focus all available resources on Level I streets until all routes are in a passable condition.
Once Level I streets are cleared, crews will then transition to Level II streets and routine trouble areas. Click here for a map of all Level II streets in [PDF] format (this file is 4.5 MB in size).
Level III streets will ONLY be treated after Level I & II streets are completed. The decision and ability of the Public Service Department to clear Level III routes is based on a number of factors including current weather conditions, salt/chemical reserves and the threat of additional inclement weather.
GAY STREET BRIDGE
The Public Service Department will make every attempt to keep the Gay Street Bridge open and safe for traffic. In the past, the City has temporarily closed the Gay Street Bridge to avoid using salt that is corrosive to steel. To facilitate traffic flow Public Service will use a special melting agent that is less corrosive to the bridge but still effective. The product recommended by TDOT is Potassium Acetate. If Potassium Acetate is not available, then brine and rock salt will be used to keep this key access route to downtown and South Knoxville open.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SNOW REMOVAL
1. Who removes snow and ice from City of Knoxville’s streets?
The City of Knoxville’s Public Service Department is responsible for planning and administering the Snow and Ice Removal Plan (The Snow Plan).
2. Who clears Interstates, such as I-40, etc.?
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) clears State routes and controlled access routes like I-40, I-275, I-75, etc. Check the State website at www.tdot.state.tn.us for information they may provide about snow removal on the interstate and other State roads.
3. How soon does the City start the Snow and Ice Removal Plan?
The City is prepped for all weather events and will begin pre-treating with brine and/or salting prior to the start of severe winter weather. Depending on weather conditions, pre-treatment of streets will occur as early as 48 hours prior to an event.
4. What is a snow emergency route?
Emergency routes, or hospital routes, are those routes that lead to the major hospitals in the City of Knoxville. However, during an event, the Public Service Department also responds to specific emergency situations as requested by the E-911 dispatch center to assist the Knoxville Police Department, Knoxville Fire Department, and ambulance services.
5. What are a Level I routes?
Level I streets are the main streets carrying the highest volume of traffic and hospital routes. Click here for a map of all Level I streets in [PDF] format.
6. What are a Level II routes?
Level II routes are streets connecting to the main streets, along with feeder streets to connecting streets. Click here for a map of all Level II streets in [PDF] format.
7. What are a Level III routes?
Level III routes are main streets and connections at the neighborhood level and are only salted once Level I and II streets are completed. The decision and ability of the Public Service Department to clear Level III routes is based on a number of factors including current weather conditions, salt/chemical reserves and the threat of additional inclement weather. It is important for our customers to remember that Public Service must maintain enough salt reserves to not only deal with an on-going snow/ice event, but any predicted weather events that may occur in the near future.
8. What resources does the City have to remove snow?
The Public Service Department calls on up to 180 employees, 21 pieces of snow removal equipment, a salt water brine mixing system and 2,000 tons of salt during snow removal operations.
9. Whom do I contact in an emergency?
For all life threatening emergencies, contact 911. For questions about snow removal or Public Service, please call 311 (215-4311)
10. Whom do I contact about a non-emergency?
Contact the City by calling 311 or 865-215-4311
Call the Police and Fire Departments at 911 only in life threatening emergencies or for emergency Fire and Rescue services.