Street Snow Removal

The Public Works Department is responsible for providing snow and ice control for the City’s streets and  parking lots. To help provide this service, the City has developed a Snow and Ice Control Plan.

Snow and Ice Control Plan Details

  • Anti-icing chemicals will be applied to bridges and selected streets prior to freezing, icing, or other winter weather conditions. Application rates and timing will depend on current and forecast roadway temperatures, precipitation, and day of the week. Applications may be scheduled up to 72 hours in advance of events if conditions warrant.
  • Snow and ice response on primary routes will begin prior to the start of a forecasted storm to prevent ice bonding. Response actions will be timed based on weather conditions and pavement temperatures.
  • Snow and ice removal on primary routes will be completed within 12 hours of cessation of the storm. The goal is to remove snow and ice from the driving lanes to a near-bare pavement and clear snow from the pavement to the curb or edge of the pavement.
  • Secondary routes will be cleared within 24 hours after primary routes have been completed.  Secondary routes may not be cleared to a near-bare pavement status.  Snow will be cleared from the pavement to allow for mail delivery.
  • Cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets will be cleared within 24 hours after primary routes have been completed.  Cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets may not be cleared to a near-bare pavement status.  Snow will be cleared from the pavement to the curb or edge of the pavement.
  • For snowfall events less than two inches, secondary routes, cul-de-sacs, and dead-end streets will be cleared and can be accomplished in conjunction with regular or overtime shifts.
  • All streets are covered by the Plan and will be cleared.
  • City parking lots will be cleared within 12 hours after cessation of the storm.  A minimal number of parking spaces will be used for stockpiling snow.
  • For storm events with more than two inches of snow, sidewalks on City property will be cleared within 12 hours of the storm’s cessation.
  • For snow events with an accumulation of four inches and more, City alleys will be cleared.  Alley snow removal will be done during regular work shifts and completed after all City streets, sidewalks, and parking lots have been cleared.
  • Snow will be removed from the sidewalks and parking areas in the Downtown area with the long-range forecast indicates the snow will not melt in the near-term and the snow is interfering with access to Downtown businesses.


Public Works’ normal work shift is 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. If the snow and ice event is expected to arrive or continue past the normal end of the day, Public Works staff is split into A and B shifts. Each A and B shift generally works 12 hours, providing a 24-hour response capability with 14 snow plow trucks.

Helpful Hints

The Public Works Department’s goal is to provide the best service possible to our citizens during and after a snow and ice event. There are several things that you can do to help the City achieve this goal.

  • When it starts to snow, please do not park your car on City streets. Continue parking off the street until Public Works has completed its snow clearing operations on your street. This will help City crews travel City streets more safely and allow crews to clean snow from the street and parking lanes to the curbs.
  • Do not push snow into the City streets. This creates a hazard to the public, is a violation of City Ordinance, and puts an additional burden on the Public Works Department.
  • Please shovel snow from your sidewalk and driveway into your yard. Place snow from your driveway off the street and to the left-hand side of the driveway. This will reduce the volume of snow that will be placed in your driveway when the street is plowed.
  • The Illinois Department of Transportation provides helpful hints and winter driving tips. Click here to learn more.

Primary and Secondary Snow Routes

The City’s Snow and Ice Control Plan divides City streets into primary and secondary routes.

Primary routes, which make up approximately 50 percent of the total street system, include arterial streets, collector streets, bus routes, and school and hospital routes. Primary routes have been established so most residents are within three blocks of a primary route.

Primary routes are divided into seven separate routes with routes varying between 19 and 25 miles in length. For more information, go to the “Primary Snow Routes Map.”

The remaining City streets, dead-end streets, and cul-de-sacs are classified as secondary routes. Snow and ice activities take place on these streets only after the primary routes have been completed. Activities on secondary routes are sometimes interrupted to return to the primary routes during snow events.

There are streets within the City of Champaign that are owned and maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Snow and Ice control on those streets are the responsibility of IDOT. IDOT streets within the City of Champaign  are depicted on the “Primary Snow Routes Map” and listed below:

  • Springfield Avenue (Illinois Route 10)
  • Mattis Avenue between Bloomington Road and Springfield Avenue
  • Prospect Avenue between Marketview Drive and Springfield Avenue
  • Bloomington Road west of Prospect Avenue
  • Neil Street south of Springfield Avenue
  • Church Street west of Mattis Avenue
  • University Avenue west of Mattis Avenue


For storm events with an accumulation of four inches and more, City alleys will be cleared.  Alley snow removal will be done during regular work shifts and completed after all City streets, sidewalks, and parking lots have been cleared.


The City uses three types of chemical deicers for its snow and ice response: rock salt (sodium chloride), liquid calcium chloride (a 32-percent solution of calcium chloride), and salt brine. All deicers work by lowering the freezing point of water. Factors affecting the deicing capability of chemicals include the concentration of the chemical relative to water, temperatures (especially pavement temperatures), time, weather, road type, topography (specifically when material or man-made objects shade the road surface), and traffic patterns.

Rock salt is an effective deicing chemical until temperatures drop to about 20 degrees. Rates for salt application vary. At a temperature range of 25 to 30 degrees, application rates of 100 to 200 pounds per lane mile can provide adequate control. At temperatures of 20 degrees, a rate of 300-400 pounds of salt might be required for adequate control.

Liquid calcium will melt snow and ice at lower temperatures than rock salt. Typically, liquid calcium is mixed with rock salt at a ratio of 6 to 12 gallons of liquid to 1 ton of salt, although rates up to 15 gallons can be used. Used in combination with salt, the mixture gives a quicker response than salt alone, will work at temperatures as low as five degrees, and reduce “bounce.” Wetting the salt material with liquid calcium chloride reduces salt “bounce” and keeps more of the salt on the drive area of the pavement.

Salt brine, a 23-percent solution of salt water, will also provide benefits as a pre-wetting agent. This liquid solution is used at higher temperatures than liquid calcium. Salt brine will be used when temperatures are expected to be above 25 degrees during the event. Salt brine can be mixed at rates of 6 to 12 gallons per ton of salt.


Anti-icing is a treatment strategy that aims to prevent ice from bonding to pavement surfaces. It involves applying ice control chemicals before, or at the onset, of a snow and ice event. Liquid materials can be applied at rates of 25 to 50 gallons per lane mile up to 72 hours in advance of a storm. The liquid material dries, leaving behind an anti-icing coating that will prevent moisture from bonding to the pavement.

Depending on expected precipitation and temperatures, either brine or liquid calcium is used.

Why can’t you plow my street now?

Streets within the City are prioritized to clear major travel routes first. This allows public safety vehicles access to most parts of the City. The initial plowing activities also provide most residents a cleared roadway within two-to-three blocks of their home and most destinations in the City. Other factors include locations of schools, hospitals, major commercial centers, and other facilities with large public interest.

The plow left some snow at the end of my driveway. Can you send someone to come and plow it out?

The City has thousands of driveways along City streets. Clearing drive openings would require a large commitment of resources in labor and equipment at a time when those resources are dedicated to clearing primary snow route roadways and neighborhood streets.

Can you tell me exactly when my street will be plowed?

It is the City’s goal to plow all primary snow route streets within 12 hours after the snowfall has stopped. Neighborhood streets will be plowed within 24 hours after primary routes have been completed. Cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets will be plowed within 36 hours after primary routes have been completed. It’s not possible to provide an exact time for clearing each individual street or address. Weather conditions such as blowing or drifting snow or other weather events make exact predictions difficult. See the “Primary Snow Routes Map” for more information.

Why do you sometimes salt instead of plow or plow instead of salt?

Several factors influence decisions made to reduce winter weather hazards. Current air temperatures, predicted air temperatures, time of day, and precipitation type are all important considerations when determining an appropriate response. In some cases, plowing alone will be most effective at addressing the hazards. In some events, such as cold pavement with dry and blowing snow, application of salt or other chemicals could create a problem by allowing moisture to accumulate and possibly freeze on the otherwise dry pavement.

Why do snow plow trucks sometimes just ride around when it’s not snowing?

Depending on conditions, the trucks may be applying anti-icing materials, checking road conditions, or returning to the Public Works Center for additional materials.

Salt corrodes my car, sidewalk, and drive. Couldn’t you use cinders instead?

Abrasives like sand and cinders are used in some areas to increase traction. Use of abrasives, however, would create additional problems with storm water sedimentation and degradation and obstruct storm water sewers. Abrasives also can cause problems if carried indoors on shoes and boots. Abrasives do not melt snow and ice and are not as effective at providing safer winter roadways.

I have a heart condition. Can you plow my street in case there is an emergency and an ambulance needs to get through?

The Public Works Department works with METCAD and the Champaign Police and Fire Departments to make sure that these public safety agencies can provide emergency services during winter weather events. Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911. The METCAD dispatchers will make sure a plow is available to clear the way for Fire and ambulance crews.

When is parking prohibited on City streets?

The City encourages residents to use off-street parking whenever possible during snowfall, as it allows for more snow clearing and less piling up of snow on the sides of the streets.

Where are cars taken when they are towed for being parked on the street prohibiting snowplows from completing operations?

In the rare instance of an abandoned vehicle which is preventing snowplows from getting to a certain street, the Champaign Police Department will be able to tell persons whose cars have been towed where they were relocated. The phone number for the Police Department’s front desk is 217-351-4545.

Who is responsible for plowing the State roads?

The State of Illinois Department of Transportation is responsible for maintenance of State roadways, including snow removal. State roads are identified on the “Primary Snow Routes Map.”

Why does it take longer to plow cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets?

The prioritization for snow clearing is set to provide safe travel for as many people as possible as quickly as possible. By starting with major routes and then through residential streets, the biggest impact is possible. Cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets usually have lower traffic volumes, and are therefore cleared after higher traveled roadways.

Also, because of their configuration, cul-de-sacs and dead-ends cannot be plowed using the more conventional truck-plowing units used on other City streets. Since there are fewer of these units than the large truck plows, short delays in plowing these special areas sometimes occur.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

Questions regarding snow and ice removal can be directed to the Public Works Operations Division at 217-403-4700.

Who do I contact if the City’s snow removal activities have damaged my property, car, or mailbox?

Report any damage as soon as possible to the Public Works Department Operations Division at 217-403-4700. Please be prepared to provide the following information: Your name, address, phone number, and a description of the damage.

Note: Most people think it is the snowplow that actually hits the mailbox. Although this happens occasionally, the snow that is thrown by the plow is usually the cause of mailbox damage. The wetter and heavier the snow, the greater the potential for damage to mailboxes when snowplowing occurs. Residents can help to avoid this by making sure the mailbox poles or supports are in good condition.

Sidewalk Snow Removal

View Example of a Snow-covered SidewalkAs of November 1, 2007, owners of property located within the University District and the Downtown area are responsible for removing snow, ice, sleet, or freezing rain from the sidewalk adjacent to their property.

The goal of the ordinance is to maintain accessibility for the general public who rely on our sidewalk system to carry out their daily activities.  The ordinance applies when accumulations are of 2 inches or greater.  The City’s Public Works Director will publicly declare when the ordinance requirements are officially in effect.  Owners then have 48 hours to comply with the declaration.  A path the width of the sidewalk or 48 inches, whichever is less, is required to be maintained.

Property owners on corner lots are also required to shovel paths to the nearest crosswalk. Snow should be stored on your property, if possible, or in the parkway between the sidewalk and the street curb. Please bear in mind that streets with on-street parking still need access to vehicles and parking meters.  Snow cannot be deposited onto City Streets. The preceding information is provided as examples of nuisance violations but it is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of every violation.  For further information please review the City code or consult with an inspector.

For more information, please contact:

City of Champaign
Public Works Department
702 Edgebrook Drive
Champaign, IL 61820
[email protected]