Snow and Ice Control
The objective of the City of Cedar Rapids is to clear more than 1,400 lane miles of snow and ice to allow reasonable and safe travel within the city. Public Works will provide snow and ice control safely and cost-effectively, weighing environmental impact, safety, budget, equipment, and availability of de-icing materials.
Snow Removal Prioritization
After a snowfall, it may take up to 12 hours for crews to reach every street in the city. The following is how the City prioritizes snow removal efforts:
- Main arterial streets: Highest traffic volumes and posted Emergency Snow Routes.
- Collector streets: Connect major sections of the city.
- Residential streets: Neighborhoods and side streets
*During heavy or slow-moving storms, crews may need to make multiple passes on the same route before they can move on to the next area of prioritization.*
View a Map of Prioritized Routes
Want to see where a street ranks on the prioritization list?
Click HERE to view an interactive map.
On-Street Parking Restrictions During Snow Emergencies
During a snow emergency, on-street parking is limited on Emergency Snow Routes to make it easier for crews to clear the road curb-to-curb. Parking on posted Emergency Snow Routes when a snow emergency has been declared is prohibited. Vehicles in violation during a snow emergency may be ticketed and/or towed.
Residential Odd/Even Parking Rule (voluntary)
When a snow emergency is declared, residents are asked to use the odd/even rule when parking their vehicles on the street:
- Park on the odd-address side of the street on odd calendar days.
- Park on the even-address side of the street on even calendar days.
The Odd/Even rule does not apply to any street where the alternate side parking would conflict with permanently posted parking restrictions. Normal parking rules will apply on all arterial (or main) streets throughout Cedar Rapids.
Vehicles that are parked on residential streets during plow operations will not be ticketed or towed during the declared emergency, but we ask all residents to voluntarily please move vehicles off the streets to help our plow operators remove snow and break up ice packs. Vehicles that have been parked on the street for more than 48 hours may be ticketed and towed. Residents can report these vehicles by calling the Cedar Rapids Police non-emergency number: 319-286-5491.
SIGN UP FOR TEXT ALERTS
The official recorded date and time of the end of the last responsive winter weather event in Cedar Rapids was:
Friday, February 25, 2022, at 6 a.m.
Unless snow is actively falling, property owners have 24 hours from the time listed above to clear snow and ice from sidewalks pursuant to Municipal Code 9.11 — Clearing Snow and Ice from Sidewalks.
To provide a safe, walkable community for all residents, it is important to maintain clear and safe sidewalks and sidewalk ramps during the winter months.
Property owners and private businesses are responsible for their sidewalks and adjacent sidewalk ramps at intersections. Municipal Code was amended in July 2021 to provide new guidelines and additional clarity for property owners:
- Reduced timeframe for snow clearance.
Following winter snow or ice storm, property owners have 24 hours to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice accumulations.
- New civil citation and formal appeal process.
If the City receives a report of sidewalks with lingering snow and ice, an inspector may arrive as soon as 48 hours after a snow or ice storm. This is down from 96 hours. If the sidewalk is out of compliance, a new $35 civil citation will be assessed. Previously, there was no citation fee during the inspection process. A formal process is available for residents to appeal the citation. A citation notice will be affixed to the front door of the property.
- New language.
The ordinance specifies property owners must clear the entire width of abutting public sidewalks and pedestrian curb ramps.
- The initial abatement fee remains $313.
The abatement fee remains unchanged from previous years. If a sidewalk is out of compliance upon inspection, a snow-removal crew will arrive the next day to clear the sidewalk. If the sidewalk remains out of compliance and the City needs to remove snow and/or ice, the initial fee remains $313, subject to the scope of work performed.
- New volunteer program. The City is piloting a snow-removal volunteer program. Learn more about Snow Buddies. The program is operating on a first-come, first-served basis.
To report a property that is in violation 24 hours after accumulating snow or ice, use My CR. You may also contact the Solid Waste and Recycling Division at 319-286-5897 or Solid-Waste-Recycling@cedar-rapids.org. Be sure to note the address of the property in violation.
Property Owner Responsibility
- Private streets | Private streets are the property owners' responsibility for snow removal activities
- Alleys | Generally, alleys are not plowed unless snow makes it impossible for the Solid Waste and Recycling Division to safely pick up collection bins. In those situations, the Solid Waste trucks will plow the alley so their trucks can get through.
- Sidewalk & Sidewalk Ramps | All sidewalks and sidewalk ramps adjacent to private property are the responsibility of the property owner.
- Driveways | Unfortunately, there is not a good way to avoid plowing snow into certain areas without adding significant time to the drivers’ routes and hindering their ability to reach all streets promptly. During snowstorms, our priority is on maintaining safe and clear roadways; “skipping” each driveway would simply not be practical during emergency snow events.
- Mailboxes | Adjacent property owners are responsible for clearing snow around their mailbox to assure delivery of mail. Residents are also responsible for properly installing their mailbox behind the curb line to withstand snow clearing efforts.
Residents and businesses are asked not to push or blow snow from their driveways/parking lots into public streets, as this places an additional burden on City crews trying to clear the roadways.
Crews work as hard as possible to avoid damage to personal property during snow-fighting efforts. Our operators go through extensive training and certification on plow operations, but visibility may be limited during snow events.
- MAILBOXES: If a plow damages your mailbox, reimbursement up to a maximum of $50 is available.
Homeowners should complete a Claim/Release form and provide a copy of the purchase receipt for replacement material. A claim form and receipt must be submitted to the City’s Risk Department (email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to the City of Cedar Rapids, Attention: Jackie Lynch, 500 15th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404 or by dropping off at City Services Center).
On-Street Bike Lanes
Where possible, bike lanes are plowed during normal snow removal operations. Protected bike lanes (bike lanes that are separated from the travel lane by a parking lane or median) will be cleared with small sidewalk clearing equipment after all travel lanes have been cleared, which may take a few days after a significant snow event.
During heavy snow accumulation, bike lanes may be used for temporary snow storage while crews work to keep travel lanes open.
- Do not follow plows too closely. During their operation, they occasionally have to stop and back up.
- Reduce your speeds
- Use caution in turns
- Avoid sudden moves
- Accelerate and brake carefully and slowly
- Leave more room between vehicles
- Increase your braking distance
Materials & Forces
- 6,000 tons of snow-fighting material at three different sites (including a large 4,500-ton salt dome at the City Services Center)
- 10,000 gallons of brine on hand and 6 brine applicators
- Approximately 100 pieces of snow removal equipment
- Around the clock shifts between December and April to provide 24/7 service during snowfalls
Snow Fighting Materials
- Salt – Most effective when applied during temperatures above 15 degrees
- Sand/Salt Mix – Most effective when temperatures are dropping or conditions require the abrasive qualities of the sand for added traction.
- Sand/Salt/Flake Chloride Mix – Most effective when temperatures plummet. This tactic uses a 3:1 sand/salt mix and combines it with the added melting power of chloride flakes. The chloride is effective at melting snow/ice off the road at temperatures that drop to 20 below zero.
- Salt Brine – Most effective when used before the snow or ice falls, and when temperatures at the time of application are above 15 degrees. The brine helps coat the roads and makes them less susceptible to sticking snow.
- Salt Brine/Carbohydrate Blend – When blended materials are used, they better adhere to the pavement and lengthen the effective time the material is present on the road surface.