As snowflakes swirl in the air and a white blanket thickens over the streets, you’re probably wondering, between serene sips of cocoa, why the hell hasn’t my street been plowed?
This is Denver, after all, and you have things you’d like do, either in the snow or in spite of the snow.
The answer to your question depends on where you live and how much it’s snowed.
The city’s official policy on plowing residential is this: Residential snow plows will be deployed when a storm requires full deployment of Denver’s fleet of large plows and “enough snow” has accumulated that the smaller residential plows “can be helpful.”
I put some of that language, which comes from Denver Public Works, in quotes to be perfectly clear that the policy is not perfectly clear. It reads like the government language equivalent of the shrug emoticon. But, presumably, the people who are paid to do this have a good idea of when it’s time to plow.
You probably won’t see a big plow truck coming down your street. Denver’s 36 residential plow trucks are pickups. If they’re sent out, they’ll take one pass down the center of every street and they’ll only take a few inches of snow off the top. The trucks don’t carry de-icing materials.
Depending on how long you’ve lived here, it may or may not surprise you to learn that the residential plowing program is pretty new. The city added staff to handle it in 2017, according to Denver Public Works. Before that, residential streets were owned plowed for emergencies and really big storms.
In fact, the residential plowing program didn’t even exist until the blizzards of 2006-07.
As for the main streets, which include most streets with stripes, Denver will maintain them during a storm with its fleet of 70 large plow trucks. Those trucks do come with de-icing materials, and the kind they use depends on where they’re using it. Downtown gets a liquid de-icer and everywhere else gets the dry stuff.
And as for your sidewalks, remember that you’re required to clear yours within 24 of a snowstorm. We’ve got more on those rules here.