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When will your street get plowed this winter? 9 News investigates Tri-State plow priorities

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CINCINNATI - When the snow is falling, the kids are off school and you're stuck at home wondering when it will be safe to get out to the grocery store for more hot chocolate, the first question that comes to mind is "When will the roads be clear?"

9 News is On Your Side with the answers after checking with city, county and state officials about what streets are on the plow priority list in the Tri-State this winter.

Three bodies can handle plowing during any given snow event: State transportation departments, county engineers and city public works departments, all varying slightly per each geographical location.

There are specific state roads that the state transportation department will plow when snow falls. These roads run through multiple counties of the state.

County engineer office plows will handle county roads, specifically designated by the engineer, and they will also help with state roads as it is deemed necessary.

Finally, city public works departments handle roads in their city limits. Most departments say they do not have specific priorities when plowing, only that they cover the major thoroughfares first, then secondary roads and finally residential roads and cul-de-sacs.

While every snow event is different in size and length, there is one Golden Rule of plowing: Clear the interstates first. All the officials we talked to in the Tri-State area say they direct their resources to the interstates first, with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet saying they want to clear the highways once an hour during a snow event. These priority interstates include I-71, I-75, I-74, I-275, I-71/75 in Ky., and I-471.

The next priority on a state-wide level, according to the officials 9 News spoke to, are state routes near large population centers. State routes leading to and from Cincinnati and other large Tri-State cities are considered a priority by the Ohio Department of Transportation .

Ohio's full state-wide priority maps can be found at http://www.wcpo.com/generic/weather/winter/Ohio-Priority-Plow-Maps and Kentucky's full state-wide priority maps can be found at http://www.wcpo.com/generic/weather/winter/Ky-Priority-Plow-Maps .

Officials with the City of Cincinnati say they designate all major thoroughfares as priority routes, but they do not have a specific priority route plan. Officials say streets like Colerain Avenue (SR 27) and Reading Road (SR 42) would receive treatment first before plows find their way to any lesser-traveled, residential roads.

Most Tri-State city officials we spoke to had a similar plan as Cincinnati, but listed roads around important community areas such as schools, hospitals and other critical care facilities as priority. Many officials also said roads with a steep grade are considered priority.

Some cities had more of a constructive idea of what the major thoroughfares are.

In Mason, city officials say they define the major thoroughfares to be cleared first as Tylersville Road, US 42, Mason-Montgomery Road, Snider Road and State Route 741. After these roads are clear and passable, Mason officials say plows begin to move off to secondary roads. The City of Harrison also had specific examples of these priority major thoroughfares: Harrison Avenue, New Haven Road, Broadway, West Road, Stone Road and State Street.

Other cities have physical priority maps spelled out like Loveland (found at http://goo.gl/jO4bI ) and Fairfield (found at http://goo.gl/Su2bo ).

Counties contribute to snow removal of many roads as well, dispatching crews to help clear the major thoroughfares as well as county-owned property like parking lots.

The Clermont County Engineer says they maintain 18 routes that are approximately 20-24 miles in length with two trucks on each route, that take approximately three to four hours to complete salting and longer for plowing. Their plows leave from collection facilities in Batavia, Washington Township and Miami Township. You can find out more about the Clermont County Engineer's snow and ice removal policies at http://www.clermontengineer.org/Snow.aspx .

But counties will only help with roads they designate as county roads. The Butler County Engineer's Office lists the roads that they cover at http://www.bceo.org/countyroads.html .

Hamilton County's designated treatment roads can be found at http://www.hamilton-co.org/engineer/HAMILTON_COUNTY_ROAD_LIST.pdf (alphabetical). The Hamilton County Engineer says to consult the list and contact the appropriate maintenance facility assigned to take care of the road with any questions about removal. The county's three maintenance facilities are broken up by location in Newtown , Burlington and just outside of Miamitown . The Hamilton County Engineer also operates two substations, one in Delhi Township and the other in Harrison. The engineer's service garage and traffic department is in the Hartwell area. County plows dispatch from these locations to prevent and remove snow and ice on county roads. They have 54 routes that they cover, giving multiple trucks

to routes that have heavier traffic such as Beechmont Avenue, Columbia Parkway and Ronald Reagan Highway.

The Warren County Engineer's Offices says they strive to provide an excellent level of control in covering their 544 miles of road. They say they have 18 snow routes, approximately 10-30 miles in length that take approximately three to four hours to plow. Their full Snow Removal Policy can be found at http://www.wceo.us/attachments/2/2011_Snow%20Removal%20Policy.pdf and the roads they designate as county roads can be found at http://www.co.warren.oh.us/warrengis/map/engineer/roadmapfronta.htm.

Boone County has 34 trucks that cover more than 380 miles of road. Boone County's first priority roads are collector roads and main industrial streets. Their second priority roads are major subdivision streets, commercial streets and other county roads with a large number of residents. Their third priority roads are minor subdivision streets (cul-de-sacs, etc.) and other county roads with lower number of residents. You can read more about Boone County's snow and ice removal policies at http://www.boonecountyky.org/PressReleases/SnowRemoval/SnowRemoval.pdf and find out what they designate as county roads at http://www.boonecountyky.org/PressReleases/SnowRemoval/CountyMaintainedStreets.pdf .

To view a list of roads Campbell County monitors when it snows, visit http://www.campbellcountyky.org/images/stories/Transportation/roadlist.pdf.

Other counties say to contact their engineer or public works department for questions about how county roads are plowed.

In Indiana, the Indiana Department of Transportation says there are no priority routes, and that all of them will be considered necessary to clear right away when snow begins to fall. Their snow route plan is based on the location of their substations that house plowing and salting equipment. Those locations can be found in a map at http://goo.gl/FiZ87 .

Lastly there are many private contract plow-services in many Tri-State neighborhoods that can be employed by specific communities, groups of residents or individual residents that would like their driveways plowed as well as their streets separate from government services. Try searching for snow removal services here (Mobile users go to a browser version of WCPO.com to get the link) or check the snow removal section on Angieslist.com for reviews or private, local snow removal companies. Either that or make some friends who have plows attached to their vehicles.

The officials we spoke all said that it is difficult to establish priority because their routes are always subject to change based on several factors including the plow operator's discretion, necessity for more plowing on certain first priority roads and the safety of the plow operators.

All Tri-State officials we spoke to wanted residents to be reminded that snow that accumulates at the end of driveways as a result of plowing is the property owner's responsibility to clear, and that it is unlawful to put snow from driveways onto or across city, county or state roads.

If you want to find out more information about specific road clearance in your residential area, it's best to contact your city public works department.

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