Frequently Asked Questions

How many trucks does the City of Lansing have to plow ice/snow?
The City has 52 trucks on average that are used to clear snow. When crews engage in a full plow, 18 to 24 trucks are typically sent out per shift, however, this is dependent on staffing levels and truck availability (the number of trucks that are not under maintenance). Generally, the crew that is responsible for plowing major streets consists of nine staff members. For smaller winter weather events, four to six staff members are sent out to address city streets. The Fleet subdivision also helps assist with winter weather events when needed.

How many tons of salt does the City currently have (as of January 2021)?
Currently, the City's bays hold 1,800 tons of salt at one time. The O&M staff that is responsible for winter weather maintenance ensures that the bays are full at the start of the season, including what is left over from the previous season. At the end of every November, crews place a salt order so that bays can be full to their capacity before any major winter weather event. The stock of salt is checked frequently and is replenished when needed to keep it full.

How much salt does the City use per year on average?
Typically, the City uses 8,000 tons of salt. During heavier winter seasons in the past, the City has used as much as 10,000 tons of salt.

How much does the City spend on salt per year?
The City spends nearly $500,000 on salt every year. In the past, depending on weather conditions and the extent of the need, the City has spent as much as nearly $700,000 in one year on salt. 

How do crews respond to a winter weather event that happens over a weekend?
  • There is a crew member assigned to be on "snow watch," which is someone who works on holidays and weekends to monitor the weather and check the roads. When the City starts to get any precipitation during the winter, the crew member on snow watch checks the condition of the bridges first as they will freeze over. If they freeze, salt will be applied. Salt will also be applied to intersections and other areas as precautionary action. If winter weather continues to worsen, a senior supervisor will be called.
  • A supervisor will come in and assess the situation and condition of streets. At this point, the supervisor can call in four standby employees to start salting.
  • From here, the supervisor will continue to monitor the winter weather (keeping tabs on the ice/snow accumulation, etc.) and the condition of streets. Once accumulation has reached 1.5" to 2" in total, underbody trucks will be used in addition to the salting. If totals reach the 4" mark, a full plow of streets, including local streets, will begin.
  • When engaging in a full plow, major streets are addressed first. The decision to address major streets first is made between the superintendent and the director of the department based on the following factors: real number totals in the roadway, accounted temperatures and the review of the multiple events mentioned previously. More information on this process can be found below.
  • If a winter weather event happens at any other time besides a weekend or holiday, the supervisor monitors conditions and streets instead of the crew member on snow watch.
How does the City prioritize plowing of streets?
Plowing is prioritized by focusing on primary roads first since traffic levels are greater. Once primary roads have been completed, crews start into the local streets. However, if there is an additional snowfall while crews are addressing local roads, they will go back to the primary roads again.

When working on primary roads, crews generally salt and plow with an under-body truck combination unless the snow is less than one inch deep. When snow is three to four inches deep, crews will switch to plowing to clear primary streets. Once snow is four inches deep in the roadway, or if weather conditions are predicted to warm up or freeze on the forecast, crews will plow local streets.

Crews do not place salt on local routes only and follow a method commonly known as "hills, intersections and curves." The "hills, intersections and curves" method is when a salt/sand mixture is placed on hills, intersections and curves when they are icy or when the forecast shows that temperatures will be cold for an extended period of time. With this operation, crews address streets in the same way that they would for local plowing and will start with the next recycling/trash collection day.

How is the plowing/salting schedule determined?
When crews engage in plowing a local street, they start based on CART's recycling/trash collection schedule. For example, if crews engage in plowing of a local street on a Tuesday (after a winter weather event), they will start in Wednesday's recycling/trash collection routes and proceed south. Once crews make their way to the south border, they go back to the north and head south again until streets have been completed. The reason for this schedule is to ensure that recycling and trash are still collected in addition to the plowing/salting.

What is the best way to stay updated on winter maintenance?
The best way to stay informed on winter maintenance, especially in regards to local street plowing, is by signing up for Lansing Alert. Messages are typically sent out every 8-16 hours with a link to the updated plowing map attached. Residents can also obtain information and updates by calling 517-483-4161.