Snow Removal

Snow Removal provided by Public Works Street Maintenance

Removing snow from city streets is a service provided by the Street Maintenance division of Public Works. When snow removal becomes necessary, city crews work around the clock to improve travel conditions on major transportation routes; allowing emergency services, education, and business to continue with minimal interruption. Residents should understand that snow removal is a public safety initiative. The program is not designed to provide convenient road conditions for extensive travel throughout the city.

Public Works crews are ready for winter weather.

Street Clearing Order

Bridges, major thoroughfares, and major arterial streets are given 1st and 2nd priority. Major thoroughfares and arterial streets will be cleared to bare pavement within 48-72 hours after the snow has stopped falling, DEPENDENT UPON ACCUMULATION AND TEMPERATURE. Private property owners should not move snow from their driveways or parking lots into city streets. Doing so hampers the city’s ability to clear roadways and could become a public safety hazard.

Staying Safe During a Major Snow Storm

During major snowstorms, the City of Durham encourages residents to stay home if at all possible. If residents must travel, they should make every effort to use major thoroughfares that have been plowed and/or treated with sand and salt.


Residents should also make every effort to move or park their vehicles on side streets, leaving the primary and secondary streets shown on our maps open and accessible for plowing operations and for use by police, fire and other public safety vehicles. The City of Durham will tow vehicles that are double-parked or abandoned in travel lanes on streets that impede our ability to perform plowing operations.

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Frequently Asked Questions: 
What happens when winter weather is forecast? 

When winter weather is predicted, the Street Maintenance division of the Public Works Department activates its snow program. Salt spreaders and snow plows are mounted onto 25+ City trucks. Up to 100 employees begin working around the clock in 12-hour shifts until the streets are clear.

 What does the City do when winter weather begins?

If snow is in the forecast, City crews apply a salt brine solution to major thoroughfares, bridges and overpasses 24 to 48 hours in advance. This helps to prevent snow from sticking to the pavement and makes plowing and additional salt application more effective.

If snow or freezing rain begins to fall, crews spread salt on bridges and overpasses first since they are safety hazards. The salt prevents the ice from forming and begins the melting process. Next, heavily traveled streets referred to as primary streets are treated with salt. If one or more inches of snow falls, crews begin plowing roadways.

 How do you determine which streets are cleared first?

During inclement weather, the City plows more than 1,000 lane miles of streets. Primary streets which are emergency service routes and major thoroughfares, such as Roxboro Street, Cornwallis Road, Fayetteville Street. and NC Hwy 55 are cleared first, along with several other thoroughfares. Residential streets are plowed only after all primary and secondary streets have been cleared.

 When will the roads be cleared?

After precipitation ends, Public Works goal is to:
• Have 75% of Primary streets to bare pavement within 48 hours
• Have 50% of Secondary streets to bare pavement within 72 hours

Please note – These goals are dependent upon accumulation and temperature 

 How can I find out if my street is on a snow route?

Please review the maps of our primary and secondary streets for plowing.

 How much salt does the City have?

The City has the capacity to store up to 2,000 tons of salt and up to 1,000 tons of a salt/sand mixture at 2 storage facilities.

 Where does the City get its weather information?

The City uses a combination of sources for weather forecasts – various weather websites, the local news media and the national weather service.

 What type of training do snow crews have?

Each fall, crews receive refresher training on proper procedures for loading/unloading equipment, plowing operations and salt application. Crews also review and drive their routes weekly; noting any roadway hazards that would be problematic during plowing operations.

 What about the snow pile the City trucks leave at the end of my driveway?  Will the City remove this?

When snow plows clear the streets in your area, extra snow can collect along the curb and in driveways. Since it would drastically slow the snow removal process, our crews are not able to remove snow from residential or commercial driveway entrances, parking lots or sidewalks. If needed, please shovel off the extra snow in your driveway and place it near the curb or in your yard. If you put it back in the street, plows could push it back into your driveway when they come by again.

 Who do I call if my mailbox was damaged by a City truck?

If you believe that a City snow plow damaged your mailbox, call Durham One Call at 919-560-1200. Or, you may submit a request online through Durham One Call.  Each call will be investigated and if it is determined that a snow plow caused damage the City will fix your mailbox.

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Maps of Snow Plow Routes

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