Snow and Ice Removal
Newtown Township’s Public Works Department treats and clears approximately 60 miles of roadway during snow and ice events. Our staff and vehicles are dispatched as soon as is possible during a storm, and work to make our streets as safe as possible for travel.
The Township will salt and plow all Township Roads as well as all State Roads except Rt. 252 (Newtown Street Road), Rt. 3 (West Chester Pike), Media Line Road and the state-owned portions of Gradyville Road. Rt. 252, Rt. 3, Media Line Road and the state-owned portions of Gradyville Road are salted and plowed by PennDOT. The Township also does not plow any of the private streets or "paper" streets. These are cared for by the developer, HOA or their private owners.
In order to assist us, please do the following during a snow or ice storm:
- Be patient. Our staff are clearing and/or treating our roadways as fast and as safely as is possible. This takes many hours after the snowfall has ended. We stay on the job until our streets are clear.
- Keep vehicles off of the streets until they are clear. Parking vehicles on the streets in a storm makes salting and plowing much more difficult for our drivers and increases the time necessary to do the job properly or may make it impossible to clear the snow and ice in that area. This can especially be true in the 60 cul-de-sacs that are part of our community. We frequently enter a cul-de-sac during a storm and due to the location of driveways and cars parked on the street have nowhere to place the snow we are trying to clear.
- Remove any items that could obstruct the plow trucks from plowing our streets curb-to-curb.
- Ensure that trees on your property do not grow into the roadway. There should be at least 14 feet of clearance for a fire truck, ambulance or plow truck to pass underneath.
- Never shovel or blow snow back into the roadway after it has been plowed or treated with salt. This creates additional work for everyone and may make your street less safe.
Cleaning up after a snow or ice storm is frustrating for everyone. Frequent questions and issues that are raised regard driveways, sidewalks and mailboxes. We try very hard to avoid plowing snow onto driveways and sidewalks, and certainly never want damage to occur to a mailbox. However, in the course of plowing operations, these three things do happen at times. PennDOT has compiled information on their website regarding these three issues on State roads. As the same information applies to our Township Roads, the information has been adapted and shared below:
In all cases, we try to avoid damaging anyone's property. However, mailboxes are often placed in the roadway’s legal right-of-way, which means that the Township is not liable for damages to mailboxes caused by snow removal operations. We suggest property owners ensure their mailbox rests on a firm support so it will be better able to withstand the "windrow" of snow from the plow. See chapter 145 section 24 of the Newtown Township Code for more information.
On PennDOT’s web site it states:
PennDOT allows property owners to place mailboxes within the limits of the legal right-of-way, out of respect for the U.S. Postal Service’s need to deliver, and mail customers’ convenience of delivery. But because those boxes are within the right-of-way, damages are the responsibility of the property owner.
Be sure your mailbox has a strong support. You may also wish to use reflective tape or other material to make it easier to see during storms or during dark hours. Check your box and support often, clearing snow from it and depositing the snow properly and in a manner to allow you and motorists proper sight distances (and never on the roadway).
Sidewalks and Driveways
The first priority of clearing roads following snowfall is to maintain the traveled cartway, or traveled lanes. When limited storage space or shoulder areas allow no alternative, the decision must be made to either plow the road at the risk of the sidewalk or to do nothing. Although we do not wish to inconvenience anyone, sometimes we have to plow snow at the risk of covering a sidewalk rather than allow snow accumulation to become a hazard on the road. We work to minimize the impact on sidewalks whenever possible.
At times we receive complaints that we plow driveways shut after the property owners have already plowed their driveways following a storm. This is never something we try to do. However, due to the time it takes to plow our entire road system, many driveway owners have completed the removal of snow on their driveways prior to our plowing operations being completed on their roads.
Remember that we have over 4,000 properties in the Township, whose owners are often all clearing their driveways as soon as the snowfall ends. We have seven Public Works staff working to clear approximately 60 miles of roads. Chances are that the owners of the 4,000 plus properties will finish their driveways first.
Further complicating this issue is that we plow the cartway (traveled width) first, and then follow up with a cleanup and widening operation. This frequently results in the driveway owner immediately plowing his or her driveway after our truck makes its first pass, only to discover that our cleanup and widening pass deposits additional snow.
One way to minimize the effect of plowing in your driveway is to remove snow only to approximately 10 feet from the end of your driveway until the all passes are made by the snowplows. This is the preferred method with the best results.
An alternate method is to clean an area in addition to your driveway on the side of your driveway. See diagram below, taken from PennDOT’s web site. This normally allows a plow blade full of snow to be deposited before it reaches your driveway. When clearing snow from your driveway and standing at your house looking down your driveway, pile snow to the right of your driveway. On State roads, PennDOT suggests clearing an area of roadway to the left of your driveway. This will give the snow a place to empty before reaching your driveway. This method should work as well on our Township roads.
Thank you for reading and following the above information. We hope it helps you, your neighbors and we your township staff in keeping our roadways clear and safe during a weather incident.
Keep Our Streams in Mind When Using Salt
Spreading salt on roads and driveways clears them of ice, but too much salt can corrode metal on cars, damage gardens and trees, and pollute our local streams.
All landowners can be part of the solution by using alternative products when possible (like sand, kitty litter, coffee grinds, ashes and beet juice) or by spreading salt at recommended times and removing as much snow as possible before putting it down. A little salt can go a long way.
Here are two informational pages from groups who care for our local streams: