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How Novi works to keep roads clear of snow, ice
Published: 12/1/2021

The life of a snowplow driver isn’t glamorous. It takes a dedicated and talented person to hop into the driver’s seat of a 60,000-pound machine and navigate it through the very worst conditions for hours on end.

In Novi, we are fortunate to have those types of drivers at the helm. Their experience and ability are unmatched, and they are the reason why Novi is often seen as a model community for snowplowing.

How good are our drivers you ask? They are so good that during the 2020-2021 winter season we did not have a single traffic accident during our 28 winter events where snow or ice was a contributing factor. In fact, for the last three winters there were only 108 traffic crashes related to winter road conditions for 78 winter events.

“We take a great deal of pride in those numbers because we know the City gives us the resources to do our job effectively and these are the results of those investments,” said Matt Wiktorowski, Field Operations Senior Manager.

Novi’s Snow Team clears over 500 lane miles of road within the City, including several roads under the jurisdiction of the Road Commission for Oakland County. The only roads it does not provide winter maintenance on are: Haggerty Road, Eight Mile Road, Napier Road, Pontiac Trail, 14 Mile Road, I-96, I-696, I-275, and M-5.

A total of 15 snowplow trucks with wing plows are in the City’s fleet and are deployed as needed during a winter event. Crews’ priority during a storm is clearing major roads, neighborhood entrances/exits, and municipal parking lots first. Once improved road conditions are achieved, drivers then address residential streets followed by non-motorized routes abutting City-owned property.
  • Category 1 is for snowfall less than three inches in depth. Under this category, major roads are divided into five routes that are plowed and de-iced on an as-needed basis 24 hours per day, seven days a week through the duration of the storm. At the conclusion of the storm, local roads are then plowed and de-iced on an as-needed basis during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.
  • Category 2 is for snowfall greater than three inches. Under this category, the same rules apply for major roads, but once those roads are in a safe, travelable condition, the local roads are plowed curb-to-curb and spot de-iced at the end of a storm. Should weather conditions deteriorate causing the major roads to become unsafe, local street clearing operations will be suspended until the major roads are returned to safe travel conditions. This type of winter weather event could require additional days to clear all City streets.
Residents often express concern about the quality of their local street during a storm, but major roads always take precedence. “The likelihood of someone getting in a fatal accident going through a neighborhood is much less than driving on a major road at a higher rate of speed,” said Wiktorowski. “We understand it’s important to get everyone out of their homes but keeping the motoring public safe is our ultimate goal.”

Novi is also proactive when it comes to winter weather, often applying an anti-icing solution to the roadways prior to a storm. During storms, salt from the trucks is treated with a brine solution that activates the salt sooner, allowing it to stick to the roadway and become more effective.

In the 2020-2021 winter season, crews applied nearly 79,000 gallons of liquid to the roads, while only using 4,591 tons of salt. Wiktorowski said going away from solids to liquids is “the future” as it saves money, is better for the environment, and is better for the infrastructure.

As for what to expect in terms of snow this winter…it depends on who you ask. Novi saw 33.2 inches of snow last winter, 28.2 inches in 2019-2020, 30.9 inches in 2018-2019, and 57 inches in 2017-2018. Regardless of how much snow sticks this season, Novi’s snow team will be ready.

To stay informed during winter events in Novi, follow the City of Novi on Facebook or visit cityofnovi.org.