Frequently asked questions

Stay many feet behind plow

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO STAY UPDATED ON THE CITY’S RESPONSE TO WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS?
When winter reaches extreme conditions, updates will be posted twice daily, at approximately 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., on the City’s Nextdoor (sign up here) and Facebook sites and the web at http://www.cityofnampa.us/snow.  f warranted, additional updates will be posted.

WHAT IS THE CITY’S AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY?
There are approximately 385 miles of City streets, and even more when you consider turn lanes and four-lane roads. The City is responsible for the roads inside City limits, which includes approximately 400 subdivisions.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I LIVE ON A PRIVATE ROAD?
It is not uncommon for there to be confusion about private and public roads. Private roads are generally gated and identified with blue signs. City streets are identified with green signs. The City does not plow private roads.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I RESIDE IN CITY LIMITS?
If your City street has not been plowed, and it has been announced that plowing has been completed in your area, please check the Snow and Ice Control Map to see if your street is within City limits. A Nampa address does not automatically mean you live in City limits. Consider these questions:

  1. Do you live in an enclaved area? This means City property surrounds your property, but it is not annexed into the City. These streets are sometimes hard to see on the Plan’s Snow and Ice Control Map. However, enclaved areas can be better identified on a more detailed map at http://cityofnampa.us/DocumentCenter/View/256.
  2. Do you pay City of Nampa property taxes? Everyone pays Nampa or Canyon Highway District taxes, and everyone pays local school taxes and Canyon County taxes. But not everyone with a Nampa address pays City of Nampa taxes. A map showing local highway district boundaries can be located at http://www.nampahighway1.com/uploads/CountywideMap.pdf.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT CUL-DE-SACS AND ALLEYS?
In times of extreme snow accumulation City crews and contractors will make reasonable effort to plow narrow streets and cul-de-sacs. However, it will be up to the discretion of the driver to determine if plowing can be accomplished safely due to the ability to place snow, turn around, and impact to parked vehicles, etc. Snow plowing will not be performed in alleys due to the lack of space for equipment and lack of space to pile snow.

YOU SAY YOU PLOWED, BUT WHY DOES MY STREET STILL LOOK LIKE A MESS?
Attempt is made to make two passes, in and out, thus creating two lanes of travel. However, it will be up to the discretion of the driver to determine if plowing can be accomplished safely due to the ability to place snow, turn around, and impact to parked vehicles, etc. On some streets, it's impossible to plow two lanes due to these factors and the size of the snow plow.

WHY DID YOU PLOW SNOW INTO MY DRIVEWAY?
City and contractor plows may block driveways or plow snow onto sidewalks and pedestrian ramps. Property owners will need to remove snow from driveways, sidewalks, and pedestrian ramps after plow passes. Property owners are requested not to shovel snow into the street as the plows will likely plow the same snow back onto owner’s property. Find a spot(s) on your property where snow can be piled. Keep in mind while choosing the location(s) that when the snow melts it will not seep into your house. By plowing residential areas at approximately 6 inches, we hope the burden to clear out your driveway is more manageable.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
If possible, park off streets. This will prevent your vehicle from being buried and leaves room for plows to get through safely. Do not put garbage cans or recycling containers in street. Clear snow from mailboxes as soon as possible to avoid interruption in delivery service. Soft snow is easier to move.Once it freezes, it’s difficult.

NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS
During severe weather conditions, neighbors help neighbors, family helps family. But some Nampa citizens don’t have great neighbors or family members to help. Some can’t drive or leave their home. You could be their hero!

CAN I HIRE SOMEONE TO PLOW MY RESIDENTIAL STREET?
Yes. Normally a City permit is required; however, this takes time. In extreme weather conditions the City will waive this requirement. A group of citizens, or a homeowner’s association, that desire to hire their own contractor to plow residential streets, or to perform the work themselves, may do so at their expense and will be responsible for any damage to the roadway or private property. Citizens may only contract snow removal on residential roads. The City, or a City hired contractor, will provide snow removal for major collectors and arterials, and selected secondary streets. When a citizen does hire a contractor, the following contract requirements are recommended to minimize risk for the individual hiring the contractor. These are the same requirements used by the City:

  • Proof of insurance including workers compensation and contractor's liability insurance including the following minimum limits and conditions:
    • General Aggregate $2,000,000
    • Products-Completed Operations Aggregate $1,000,000
    • Personal and Advertising Injury (per person/organization with employment exclusion deleted) $1,000,000
    • Each Occurrence (bodily injury and property damage) $1,000,000
    • Fire Damage (any one fire) $100,000
    • Medical Expenses (any one person) $5,000
    • Property Damage Liability Insurance
    • Worker’s Compensation and Employer’s Liability $500,000

WHY ISN’T ANYONE CALLING ME BACK?
If you called one of the City offices, including the Mayor’s Office or Street Division, you probably received a voice message asking you to leave a message regarding your concern. The information you provide is quickly gathered into a database so that the appropriate response can be provided by City crews. Please review the Priorities and Levels of Service, and Operational Procedures, to better understand the City’s response to snow and ice control within the City.

I’M NOT HAPPY ABOUT THE CITY’S RESPONSE LAST YEAR
The winter of 2016-2017 was epic. We all hope we do not experience those extreme weather conditions again. However, City Council authorized fiscal year 2018 funding for contractors to plow residential (Priority Three) streets upon 6 inches of snow accumulation within 96 hours of storm event. Council also authorized funding for salt storage and salt. Street Division crews experimented with salt last year with favorable results. The City’s response to winter driving conditions will be improved thanks to these additional resources.

NOW THAT IT’S WARMING UP, SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT FLOODING?
The City pays close attention to flood risks. Based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data and snow water content, widespread flooding in Nampa is not likely. Still, preventative crews will be called in when the threat is imminent to assure that critical storm drain lines and catch basins are open. The public, especially people in low lying areas, should monitor local news media, Nextdoor, or the City of Nampa’s Facebook page for updates.

HAVE YOU ADOPTED A STORM DRAIN?
Many people have “adopted” storm drains and work to keep them clear so drainage occurs without flooding. Many residents dig small trenches for water to drain after clearing the ice away.  If you would like to adopt a storm drain, or to know storm drains located nearest to your property, the following link provides the City’s storm drains map. If you experience ponding or flooding around or near your property, please check the storm drains nearest your property.  City crews also continue to check critical storm drains to address localized ponding or flooding.

If you have questions or concerns about ponding of water, please send an email to streets@cityofnampa.us.  If you experience flooding where lives or property are suddenly in danger, please call 911.

IS MY EXPECTATION OF BARE PAVEMENT UNREALISTIC?
Yes. Here are some factors to consider. City staff aim for best practices for safety and efficiencies. If temperatures dip too quickly, packed snow turns to ice.  Crews can plow snow but cannot scrap ice and operators can easily damage a plow driving too close to a curb.  Roads are wider than the plow so there will be areas of the road that are not plowed. Operators will drop sand/salt knowing that as vehicles travel it will track the material to the other areas. On narrow streets or in residential areas operators may clear a single path in the middle of the street.

WHY AREN’T YOU USING DEICER TO MELT THE ICE?
Liquid deicer (Magnesium Chloride) is applied to Priority One and Priority Two streets before snow falls to help prevent icing.
Effectiveness of deicer is lost when temperatures fall below 25 degrees.

WHY AREN’T YOU PUTTING SALT ON EVERY ROAD TO GET RID OF ICE?
Street Division crews experimented with salt last year with favorable results.  A salt storage shed was constructed during fiscal year 2017 with plans to incorporate additional salt use.  When warranted, salt will be mixed with sand for use on Priority One and Priority Two streets.  When warranted it may be used alone.  Salt (Sodium Chloride) also depends on heat to be effective.  It loses effectiveness when temperatures dip below 15 degrees.  Salt is also moderately corrosive to unprotected metals.

WHY DO I SEE SNOW PLOWS ON THE ROAD WITH PLOWS UP?
City plows have multiple functions. With a touch of a few buttons, plows can disperse sand/salt/deicer depending on conditions. Plows are designed to work with one inch of snow or more. If snow is packed solid, plows do not go all the way to the pavement and are not designed to scrap away solid ice. When you see plows on the road with plows up it is because the driver may have been dispatched to address a hazardous location. Drivers are also assigned certain zones and may be traveling from their zone to fuel, reload materials or address a mechanical issue.

WHERE DO I PUT SNOW WHEN I CLEAR MY DRIVEWAY OR SIDEWALK?
Find a spot(s) on your property where snow can be piled. Keep in mind while choosing the location(s) that when the snow melts it will not seep into your house. Do not pile snow on the sidewalk, in the street, or on your neighbor’s property unless you have made special arrangements. Be sure to keep your mailbox area clear so mail service is not interrupted. Please keep storm drains clear to prevent flooding when temperatures rise. Finally, if you have a fire hydrant on your property, be sure to clear the snow away. You will not only be assisting the Nampa Fire Department in quickly locating the hydrant, a minute can save lives or property.