Detroit's snow removal policy: When will my street be plowed

With a major weather system taking aim at Metro Detroit this week that is expected to drop up to 14 inches of snow over a 48-hour period, the city of Detroit may need to dip into its plowing resources to maintain important roads.

Detroit's snow removal policy follows three different tiers with the amount of snow falling dictating its response.

With major snowmakers like the one expected to land at the beginning of February, the city may initiate a snow emergency. The National Weather Service announced a Winter Storm Warning Tuesday afternoon.

The Detroit Department of Public Works maintains 673 miles of major roads and 1,884 miles of residential streets. Any freeways are maintained by the county road commission and trunklines like Michigan, Woodward, and Gratiot will be plowed by the state. 

The city also manages some 50 miles of bike lanes.

MORE: Up to 14 inches of snow projected for Metro Detroit this week

The snowfall will provide one of the first challenges to the state where a shortage in plow drivers has been growing since the pandemic. 

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Up to 3 inches of snow

In typical weather systems where the amount of snow falling is 3 inches or less, DPW crews will only tackle major roadways by salting the streets. 

Bike lanes will also be salted. 

Detroit says all roads will be cleared within 24 hours of the snow stopping. 

Between 3-6 inches of snow

When up to half-a-foot of snow falls, DPW crews will use both plowing and salting to clear roads, prioritizing major roads first. Bike lanes will be plowed as needed and depending on the volume, will either be pushed to the curb or hauled away.

The city says the highest priority roads will be cleared within 24 hours of the snow stopping. The rest of the major roads will be cleared within 48-72 hours of the snow ending.

6 inches of snow or more

Under the most extreme of circumstances, when more than half a food of snow falls, Detroit will use both its own road crews and contracted plow companies to help clear the way for local streets.

RELATED: When private snow removal companies hit the roads to plow 

While DPW crews will plow and salt major roads, contractors will focus on local roadways. The local roads will be plowed at least 16 feet wide. 

In case of a snow emergency

When the snowfall is severe enough that the city is forced to use contractors, it may also order a Snow Emergency. 

The declaration enables the police department to ticket and tow any vehicles parked on snow emergency routes, which may be blocking access for plow trucks. 

Roads marked with red and white signs will be the first priority for snow removal. 

MORE: Where to find warming centers in Detroit

Residents are also required to maintain their own properties to make it safe for pedestrians to use. That includes shoveling sidewalks soon after the snow stops falling. No snow shoveled from the sidewalks can be placed on public roads.