Road Clearing Activities

Post Date:01/25/2016 4:13 PM

27,000-pound Public Works truck with a plow
scraping the top layer of ice from the roadway

31,592-pound motor grader - still needing multiple
passes to clear the ice
In response to questions and concerns expressed about the Town of Chapel Hill's activities in clearing roads due to the recent snow and ice storm, we are providing the following public information. If you have a question we have not answered or made clear, reach us at 


  • Chapel Hill received 2-4 inches of a wintery mix of precipitation on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23, mostly consisting of sleet. That ice compacted on roadways presenting more time-consuming processes for clearing the roads.
  • The highs only reached 30 degrees on Friday and 33 degrees on Saturday with consistent cloud cover and overnight lows in the mid-20s. Little to no melting occurred naturally.
  • The high temperature of 46 degrees on Sunday provided good opportunities for melting, and the temperatures quickly fell to 28 overnight, refreezing moisture on roadways before the Monday morning commute.


  • Crews began pre-treating with brine every paved maintained street in Chapel Hill on Wednesday
  • Began plowing Saturday and continue this effort.
  • Salted and sanded streets throughout event.
  • Crews continue to work around the clock since Thursday night.


Snow removal is a partnership among Public Works and NCDOT crews, and residents in the community.

Public Works Responsibility

  • Salt Town streets and plow snow.
  • Maintain safe travel for motor vehicles.
  • Conduct a first pass to open streets. Additional passes to remove snow to the curb will cause snow accumulation on sidewalks and driveways. We do not move onto secondary streets until primary streets are clear.
  • Town crews have a priority order for plowing, as follows:
    1.   Primary Streets (these are major collectors such as Sweeten Creek and Perry Creek, Piney Mountain Road, Rosemary Street, Cameron Avenue, and Mason Farm Road), including major roads, bus routes and 17 state-maintained streets including Estes Drive and Weaver Dairy Road.
    2.  Secondary Streets include Nottingham Drive, Tinkerbell Road, Rogerson Drive, Greenwood Road, Morgan Creek Road and S. Lakeshore Drive.

    Secondary streets are cleared before we clear the last tier of roads.
     3.  Our last tier of streets are plowed or treated if time permits.  These streets are largely non-through and short, including many cul-de-sacs.

NC Department of Transportation Responsibility

  • State crews also pretreat and plow Chapel Hill roads. They focus on five major streets they classify as “bare pavement” – Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd./Columbia Street/US 15-501, Franklin Street, Fordham Blvd., Manning Drive, and South Road/Raleigh Road/Hwy. 54 – and the 17 state roads classified as “secondary,” and these include Ephesus Church Road, Estes Drive, Seawell School Road and Weaver Dairy Road. 

Residents Responsibility

  • Park cars off-street when snow is forecasted to help Public Works crews with snow removal.
  • Clear sidewalks and driveways after the storm ends.


Ice is extremely difficult to plow (View the video at  and

We were unable to plow after initial precipitation – which changed into sleet late Friday. The sleet tapered off and turned to snow on Saturday – and then the accumulation froze.

  • Plowing requires that snow is plowed into driveways and into sidewalks. This is understandably an annoyance, but unavoidable. We encourage residents not to walk in the street -- and to use extreme caution if they have to walk in the snow before it is removed or melts. 
  • Local governments throughout the state typically only service pedestrian walkways at public facilities.  Some may help clear the sidewalks in their downtown business district.  The Town’s Park Maintenance Division is responsible for clearing snow/ice from sidewalks at Town-maintained facilities and certain other public locations. Residents are requested to clear their sidewalks and driveways.

We are pleased that Tuesday’s weather forecast calls for a high of 58 degrees.



Return to full list >>
View Full Site