A: The Josephine County Public Works Department is responsible for maintaining more than 570 miles of county roads. Since a snowplow can only clear one lane at a time, that means that during a county-wide snow storm, there are more than 1,140 miles of snow to clear to keep all county roads open.
Fortunately, most winter storms are not county-wide. Winter weather varies considerably at different locations around the County. For this reason, the County has not established a list of specific roads that will be plowed in order of priority. Instead, Operations Supervisors determine priorities in each area because they have the greatest familiarity with current weather and traffic conditions.
How much snow has to fall before the County begins to plow the roads?
Plowing usually begins wherever approximately four inches of snow has accumulated on the road. Sanding may begin whenever, and wherever, slick areas develop. In addition to plowing and sanding roads during regular working hours, Josephine County may plow or sand roads at night, if it's necessary due to prevailing weather conditions.
Which roads get plowed (or sanded) first?
In general, we will first plow the roads that carry the highest volumes of traffic. These are the County-maintained arterial and main collector roads. This schedule may be changed if especially hazardous conditions exist at other locations.
Will the County clear snow from (or put sand on) my road if it is not maintained by the County?
No, because owners of these roads are responsible for their road's maintenance. Private contractors can be hired for clearing these roads, known as local access roads. Whenever there is an unforseen, genuine life-threatening fire or medical related emergency, the Josephine County Board of Commissioners may authorize the removal of snow or sanding on these local access roads. There may be other situations during adverse winter weather where an emergency does not exist, but residents on local access roads may be concerned with problems such as no mail delivery, temporary power outages, or shortages of food or medicine. In these circumstances, the County may clear snow from (or place sand upon) a local access road, but only if county personnel and equipment are available for the work, and property owners who request the work are willing to pay the full cost. Property owners, particularly those who live on local access roads where the County does not clear snow or spread sand, may want to prepare for adverse winter weather which could make their roads temporarily impassable.
What if I have an emergency, and my road is impassable because of ice or snow?
The County will attempt to respond to any genuine life-threatening emergency. The Sheriff's Office should be notified to arrange for the most appropriate response. If it's a life-threatening emergency, call 911- otherwise, call the Sheriff's Office at 474-5123.
Why won't the County clear the snow berm off driveways when they plow county roads?
All available equipment and employees are usually working full-time just to clear the traffic lanes of snow. The County simply lacks the resources for clearing individual driveways. To avoid creating a hazard for other motorists, please refrain from placing snow cleared from private drives on the roadway or shoulders.
If the County snowplow knocks down my mailbox, will the County replace it?
If county equipment actually struck the mailbox, it normally will be replaced within 48 hours, and the County will pay the cost of replacement. However, it is each mailbox owner's responsibility to install and maintain the mailbox and post in a condition that will withstand snow and gravel cast aside by the snowplows. Occasionally a heavy, wet snow will roll off the snowplow blade with enough impact to knock over mailboxes if the posts are rotten or not buried deeply in the ground. Snowplow operators make every effort to avoid damaging private property such as mailboxes, but the County is not responsible for damage that occurs to sub-standard mailboxes or posts.
It is the responsibility of the homeowner to remove obstructions on road rights-of-ways such as fences, vehicles, or other items which might cause snow drifts. The County shall not be liable for damage to stalled or stranded vehicles or other obstructions on the traveled portion of roadways that interfere with snow/ice removal and placement of abrasive material. The owners of stalled or stranded vehicles should immediately notify the Sheriff's Department and have vehicles removed as soon as possible.
The Public Works Director, or his designee, may close a roadway as a result of hazardous snow and/or icy conditions. Barricading and signing for closures shall be done in accordance with the "Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices."
In addition to snow plowing and sanding operations, the Public Works Department may utilize liquid deicer to help prevent ice build up. The principle is to apply the liquid deicer to the roadway surface before the storm arrives. This proactive approach, called anti-icing, keeps the roads ice free or makes it easier for snowplows to remove the snow.
Why doesn't the County use salt to help melt snow and ice?
Because salt damages vehicles, pavements, and bridge decks and harms vegetation, highway engineers have determined that salt's corrosive and damaging effects more than offset its short-term benefit of melting ice and snow.
How will I know when the road where I live will be plowed?
Call Josephine County Public Works Division at (541) 474-5460. If radio contact is established between our office and Operations Supervisors at the time of your call, we will give you an estimated time when the snowplows will be working in your area.