Transportation and Works

Winter Maintenance Operations Policy

Transportation and Works
Policy Manual Subject
Winter Maintenance Operations

  1. The Department of Transportation and Works Roads Transportation Branch has full responsibility for:
    1. Snow clearing and ice control on all public highways not included under the jurisdiction of municipalities, other Government Departments, Federal Departments or Authorities or any lawful authority and private owned roads. Priority of service is to TCH, school bus routes and turnarounds during days schools are operational, main highways, secondary highways and local roads in that order.
    2. Snow clearing and ice control on accesses and driveways to schools located outside municipal boundaries which are part of a plowed school bus route. Approved school bus routes do not include roads or accesses to garages or parking areas where busses are parked or stationed when not engaged in the transportation of students to and from schools.
    3. Snow clearing, and at the Department's discretion, ice control on public roads outside municipal boundaries serving two or more permanent residences which have been approved for incorporation in the Provincial highway system provided the roads can be plowed with equipment servicing highways in the area.
    4. Snow clearing and at the Department's discretion and subject to equipment availability, ice control on Town Council roads subject to a written request of Council prior to the winter season and subject to Council reimbursing the Department at a Government annually approved rate schedule.
    5. Snow clearing of roads to cemeteries located outside municipal boundaries when an interment is scheduled and provided the roads can be plowed with equipment servicing the highways in that area.
    6. As of April 1, 2004 the Department no longer provides snow clearing to Class 4 roads, except under the conditions identified in 1(g) and those roads identified as fisheries access roads.
    7. Snow clearing of Class 4 roads on a fee for service basis provided all of the following conditions are met:
      1. The road is located within a Municipality or Local Service District
      2. The road was maintained or contracted by the Department to be maintained in 2003/04.
      3. A deposit of $6,600 per km is received by the Department in advance of the services (with the jurisdiction signing a contract with the Department).
      4. The Local Service District or Municipality must demonstrate that a private sector contractor is not available.
      5. The Department must be able to plow the road with existing equipment being used in the immediate area.

      In the event that the total cost of this service is less than $6,600 per kilometre, a refund will be offered.

  2. The Department's equipment will not clear snow from private roads, driveways or commercial parking lots under any circumstances.
  3. The Department will hire out and operate its equipment, only when it is available and not in competition with commercially available equipment, at current Department rates to:
    1. churches, school boards and hospital boards located outside municipal boundaries.
    2. Federal and Provincial Government Departments, Crown Corporations.

    Note:  At the Department's discretion equipment will not be permitted to be used to clear accesses to parking areas or parking areas of any Department, Crown Corporation, or any commercial or private establishment when on hire to those authorized above.

  4. The Department does not plow driveways or parking areas to doctor's or nurse's residences or to medical clinics.
  5. The Department does not remove snow piles created by plowing which block entrances to private or commercial accesses or driveways nor will deliberate action be taken to assure that snow does not block such entrances.
  6. All private equipment engaged in winter maintenance operations is hired in accordance with the public tendering process except where, under emergency or urgent conditions, it is not possible or practical to obtain equipment by that method. In all cases equipment hired outside the tendering process will be hired at rates set by the Department.
  7. A telephone number in all main depots is to be manned 24 hours a day during the winter season normally from the 1st Wednesday in November to the 1st Tuesday in May by a central dispatch system.
  8. The Department will order and store with its own requirements sand, salt or a mixture of sand and salt up to a maximum total of 300 tonnes, upon request and to the account of any municipality provided the request is received prior to May 1st. The materials may be obtained by the municipality at the Department's convenience loaded in its own equipment at the Department's storage area nearest the municipality. Materials in excess of 300 tonnes may be ordered from the Department but must be either delivered directly to the municipality from the Department's supplier or taken from the Department's supplier or taken from the Department's stockpile before the start of winter and no later than November 15th.
    1. During winter maintenance operations the line of authority is an employee's immediate supervisor. Any other person does not have authority to instruct Department employees except as may be specifically authorized under any lawful statute.
    2. Any employee of the Department should discuss requests for work to the extent of the employee's knowledge of the regulations with any person requesting such work or information. Where an employee is unable to provide an adequate response, the matter should be referred to his immediate supervisor. No reasonable request should go unanswered.
    1. Requests for assistance relating to emergencies or medical attention will be attended to any reasonable extent. The determination of emergency facts will be the responsibility of the dispatch employee on duty upon receiving the request. Dispatch personnel will have the request verified and evaluated by a medical practitioner, Fire Department, etc who must have direct knowledge of the emergency situation. Requests for fuel delivery are not considered emergencies.
    2. Operators of snow clearing equipment are encouraged to assist motorists in apparent trouble to the extent of their capabilities. However no attempt will be made to pull large commercial vehicles onto the roadway except in situations where traffic flow is impeded. Light vehicle operators in emergency situation requesting to be towed onto the roadway must: (1) be advised that the Department will not be held responsible for any damages (2) attach the cable to their vehicle.
  9. Any public road otherwise eligible for snow clearing by the Department which does not have a sufficient width of right of way to permit snow clearing without damage to fences or other private property will not be cleared until the property owners adjacent to the road agree to:
    1. replace any damages themselves or
    2. to relocate any damaged structure at a distance from the centerline of the road not less than that required by the Department or in any event not less than 10 metres.
    3. where fences cannot be relocated, the Department's liability will be on one occasion only after which future damage claims will no be considered.
  10. The Department will not be responsible for any damages to objects located in the highway right of way including mail boxes, utility poles, garbage boxes, bus shelters and commercial signs.
  11. Each winter depot will maintain a "Winter Diary" noting the daily operations of that unit. Such diaries will be kept at the unit for a minimum of 8 years.
  12. Airstrips under the Department's jurisdiction will be cleared by the Department with priority determined by the local supervisor; except isolated airstrips in Labrador which are maintained with their own dedicated equipment.
  13. During the winter schedule (mid-November to early April), maintenance crews will report for work at any time between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. depending on the area of the Province, five days a week. They work an 8 hour shift unless weather conditions dictate that they work additional hours.

    In most areas, Transportation and Works will operate a back shift system whereby one or two truck plows from a unit area are assigned to a 1:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. shift.

    Snow plows will be dispatched during storms up to 9:30 p.m. If the snow is continuing, crews will not be operating after 11:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. the next day.

    If conditions are such during a storm that is dangerous to operate due to poor visibility then the equipment will return to the depot and the public will be advised through the media that the equipment is not operating and to stay off the highways.

    Maintenance crews will not be called out except in the case of emergencies if a storm starts after 9:30 p.m. In emergency situations including fire and medical situations, the Department will dispatch equipment to address the given situation.

  14. Stranded motorists may stay at Department depots only when Department staff are manning the depot. When the depot is closing, staff will escort the motorists to the nearest hotel/motel/rest stop/service station that is open. If there is none in the area, motorists are to be escorted to the nearest community where the individuals can arrange their own accommodations.
  15. All media requests must be directed to the Department's Director of Communications.
  16. The Department provides snow and ice control in accordance with the Department's Snowfighter Salt & Sand Guidelines.
  17. When weather conditions are such that it is unsafe to operate winter snow clearing equipment, the Department supervisor will remove the equipment from the highway. The Supervisor will immediately advise the Dispatch service that no equipment is operating in the areas affected so that dispatch can advise the media of this action and make the necessary changes to the road reports. When conditions improve, the equipment will be sent back onto there routes and dispatch will be advised to update the road reports only after the first pass is completed.

    Note:  The Department typically updates its road report 3 times daily, each morning, afternoon and evening. Updated road reports maybe obtained on the internet at or by calling the following telephone numbers

    AVALON 1-709-729-7669 LABRADOR 1-709-896-7888
    WESTERN 1-709-635-4144 CENTRAL 1-709-292-4444
    EASTERN 1-709-466-4160    
  18. When winter road conditions warrant the closure of a section of highway, the following will apply:
    • Approval of closure by Regional Director (in his absence, Superintendent of Operations can approve closure).
    • Road to be barricaded at all entrances/exits and staff to make one pass through the area to ensure no stranded motorists in closed area. Dispatch advised of closure area and to update media and road report.
    • Department's supervisor to decide if or what barricade locations to be manned.
    • When conditions improve, Department's equipment to snow clear and apply ice control materials on area (if warranted) before the barricades are removed. Supervisor to drive through area to make certain roadway conditions are safe before barricades are removed. On two-lane highways one lane cleared is sufficient to open the highway.
    • Barricades are removed and the dispatch is notified that the section of highway is reopened. Dispatch to notify media and police, the road report is updated indicating the road is now open.
    • Department's depot diary to be recorded with the exact times of closure and re-opening, section area closure and the actual events associated with the closure.
    • Only the Department of Transportation and Works has the authority to close a section of highway.
  19. Department will not accept any claims from the public for windshield or vehicle paint chip damages resulting from snow and ice control during winter operations of snow equipment. All such claims will be denied.
  20. All abandoned vehicles along the roadway will be towed to the nearest depot, after which the Department will contact by registered letter, the last registered owner and advise them that they have 30 days to pickup their vehicle. Owners will be required to pay towing costs (cost paid by Department) and storage charges ($10.00 per day) to the Department to get their vehicle released. Vehicles left after 30 days will be disposed of by the Department.
  21. Note: For the purpose of this policy:

    • Public road is one to which the public has unlimited access.
    • Permanent residence is one in which the owner is living on a full time basis.
    • TCH is Route 1, Trans Canada Highway.
    • School bus route is an approved route as designated by Department of Education.
    • School bus turnaround is a location where a school bus turns around, its construction has been approved by the Department and does not include the school bus owner's garage or parking area.
    • Main highways are highways providing access to or between communities populated by permanent residences.
    • Secondary highways are any highways not included in main highways and local roads.
    • Local roads are streets or roads primarily for access to residences, businesses or other abutting property usually in a municipal area.
    • Class 1 road are all paved roads.
    • Class 2 road are Gravel surfaced main highways, i.e., highways connecting two or more communities.
    • Class 3 road are Local and secondary gravel surfaced roads including gravel surfaced connecting roads not in category 2.
    • Class 4 road are all roads used primarily during the summer season, i.e., fishery, forest and cabin access roads, sections of former highways by passed by reconstruction still included in inventory and ?minor maintenance? roads.
    • Abandoned vehicle- is a vehicle left within the highway right of way at least 48 hours without moving.
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