The snow covering small streets in residential neighborhoods will stay there until it melts, said Nicole Du Bois, spokeswoman for the Ada County Highway District.
The district has 37 snowplows clearing roadways in the county. But with more than 4,000 miles of roadway to maintain, the district focuses on higher-traffic roadways and places with higher safety risks, she said.
“We’re receiving a lot of emails from the public wanting to know why we don’t treat residential areas,” Du Bois said. “We have to explain that, because of our limitations and the vast expanse of roadways we cover, residential streets are, unfortunately, not a priority for us.”
When snow falls, the district first assigns its 37 plows to clear arterials, defined as thoroughfares designed to move vehicles over long distances. Arterials in Boise include State Street, all streets in the Downtown core and high-traffic roadways such as Hill Road in the North End or Cloverdale Road in South Boise.
Connectors are next on the plowing priority list, meaning roadways that serve as a bridge between arterials and smaller streets. Workers then give priority to bridges, overpasses, school zones, roadways near hospitals and fire stations, and roadways with steep grades greater than 6 percent.
“It’s very much up to the driver to determine what is needed on that route,” Du Bois said. “If they see a slick patch, they may drop some sand and salt on it. If they see snow is starting to drift, they’ll put the blade down and start plowing,” she said.
The district’s 57 pieces of equipment also spent part of Tuesday plowing, sanding and salting areas near stop signs on roadways intersecting with arterials and connectors, Du Bois said.
The district has 130 full-time employees working in its road maintenance division. Each plow route has two drivers, allowing them to work alternating shifts around the clock during snowstorms, Du Bois said. The district contracts out work to additional equipment operators as needed, she said.