Sidewalk Snow Support Pilot Program

jpg of badge logo for sidewalk snow support pilot

We’re continuing the Sidewalk Snow Support pilot program in a limited area of our city from December 2020 to April 2021. The pilot program includes more than 100 miles of the 922 miles of sidewalks in Grand Rapids. We’ve modeled the program after similar programs in the cities of East Grand Rapids and Wyoming. After heavy snow events, our contractor will provide sidewalk snow removal support in the pilot area. When the contractor finishes, property owners and residents are still responsible for removing any remaining snow and ice. The purpose of this pilot is to assess the feasibility of expanding the program across the city.


Snow Event Updates

As snow events occur in our city, we’ll provide status updates here.

Limited to No Snow in Forecast: There is no significant snow expected at this time.

Who's Ultimately Responsible?

Who's responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks in Grand Rapids? Property owners and residents are responsible.  We haven't changed the City Code. Owners and residents are responsible for snow and ice removal in the pilot area and across Grand Rapids.

Sidewalk Snow Support is an assistance program beginning December 2020 for the pilot area. We want to help make it easier for residents to clear their sidewalks after heavy snow events. For qualifying weather events – when there’s 3 or more inches of accumulated snow – our contractor will clear the new snow and leave no more than a half-inch of fallen snow. Removal of any compacted snow or ice is the responsibility of property owners and residents.

Background

The annual average snowfall in Grand Rapids is 72 inches. During the winter of 2018-2019, we had 81 inches of snow. This led to extended closures of local schools and businesses as well as the opening of our Emergency Operations Center.

We're excited to continue this Sidewalk Snow Support program beginning in December 2020. It’s our first pilot to help with snow removal after heavy snow events. It includes more than 100 miles of the 922 miles of sidewalks in our city. We’ve modeled it after similar programs in the cities of East Grand Rapids and Wyoming.


Pilot Purpose

The purpose of this pilot is to assess the feasibility of expanding the program across the city. This will help residents when we experience extreme weather events as in winters past.

More than 100 Miles of Sidewalk

Approximately 86 miles of sidewalk are along major streets, while approximately 20 miles are along neighborhood streets. The contractor will clear major street sidewalks first and then neighborhood sidewalks.


How We Selected Sidewalks

For the pilot program, we chose locations based on community needs. Given that people walk on major streets the most, these were prioritized in the pilot project. We looked at these characteristics:

  • Poverty levels
  • Population of older adults
  • Population of people with disabilities
  • Pedestrian traffic levels
  • Unemployment percentage
  • Population of school-aged children
  • Walking distance to transit stops
  • Past sidewalk snow removal complaints

Map

Check our interactive map to find out which sidewalks the pilot covers.

View Map


Why We Can't Plow Every Sidewalk

Some sidewalks were not eligible for the pilot program. To qualify, the sidewalk must be:

  • publicly owned
  • at least 48” wide
  • have no obstructions (like trees cutting into the sidewalk)

Three inches or more per snow event

When a snow event has more than 3 inches of accumulated snow, we'll provide Sidewalk Snow Support in the pilot area. The contractor will clear the top layer of snow,  leaving a half-inch of snow on sidewalks. Property owners and residents are responsible for clearing all remaining snow and ice.


National Weather Service Reports

We’ll rely on National Weather Service reports of snow accumulation to determine when our contractor will plow sidewalks.

After 3" + Events

During heavy snow events, the contractor will help remove a bulk of the snow that accumulated in the pilot area. The contractor will use small plows like what you see below. Note: The contractor won’t clear all the way to the cement. Property owners and residents are responsible for clearing the remaining ice and snow.

JPG image of plow clearing a sidewalk of snow - Photo Credit to Simon Law https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfllaw/74490693


Less than 3" Events

Every time it snows less than 3 inches, property owners and residents are still responsible for clearing snow and ice. If snow and ice aren't cleared right away, it can turn into heavy compacted snow and ice from people walking on it. If your sidewalks look like the one below, Sidewalk Snow Support may not be able to clear what has built up. The owner and residents are responsible for clearing all remaining snow and ice.

JPG of a sidewalk with compacted ice and snow


Be a Snow Hero!

Make sure to always clear your sidewalks to the cement like what’s shown below. You’ll be a snow hero, helping those who travel our sidewalks stay safe.

JPG of a sidewalk cleared of all ice and snow


Don't Forget Corners and Sidewalk Ramps

Make sure to always clear the corners and sidewalk ramps too. People with disabilities depend on you!

JPG of sidewalk curb cut cleared of all ice and snow