Winter Maintenance

The safety and convenience of the traveling public is of major concern to the Washburn County Highway Department. The goal of the Department is to have all State and County roads passable as soon as reasonable possible within the limitations of resources, roadway & facilities protection and environmental concerns. The traveling public is reminded to exercise caution and drive with care. In winter weather, the driving hazard that's even worse than snow and ice is your inability to see what's ahead. Especially around snowplows. Best Advice: be careful- go slow. Use courtesy and common sense. The legal speed limit may not be possible depending on conditions. The public is also requested Not to Crowd the Plow. Pass plows with extreme caution and never drive into a snow plow's cloud. Remember, in bad weather, if you're out there, so is your County Highway Department.


Providing safe and efficient travel to the public is The Washburn County Highway Departments main goal. To attain this goal during the winter time proper snow and ice removal are achieved through planning, preparation and keeping abreast on new innovative technology & techniques.


  1. During the winter season removing snow and ice from our State and County Trunk Highways is crucial. Failure to properly maintain the highway transportation system during the winter could lead to life threatening hazards and cripple the economy. That is why the Washburn County Highway Department believes in implementing innovative practices and procedures to improve operations, reduce costs, and provide a safe environment for road users.

Policy Statement

  1. Levels of effort guidelines have been developed for the purpose of encouraging greater uniformity throughout the state and county highway system while performing winter maintenance in the areas of snow and ice removal.
  2. These recommended effort levels should be interpreted as policy for maintenance operations although it is expected that the area maintenance supervisor will continue to exercise judgment in situations where maintenance requirements differ from the guidelines. Variations in local conditions must be considered, however, consistency should be exercised in an effort to comply with policy.
  3. Safe and efficient service on our highway system is our goal. Operations during hours of limited visibility may be hazardous and should be carefully evaluated to insure safety of our personnel. It is the responsibility of each supervisor to determine that the operator can safely accomplish their assigned task.

Operation Guidelines

Historically, effective snow and ice control has been achieved through good planning, thorough preparation, and implementation of good tactical procedures. This continues to be so, but a new dimension has been added: an awareness of new developments in materials, equipment, and methods that may minimize the impact of snow and ice conditions upon transportation. It is important, both in communicating to the public and in defending the agency's response to a winter storm crisis, to have a policy statement that defines the manner in which the agency intends to respond to snow and ice conditions. In climatic zones where snow and ice conditions are infrequent or are of short duration, the policy might involve only passive measures such as warnings to the public regarding travel. These passive measures could perhaps be supplemented with salt and sand at the approaches to stop signs or signals. At the opposite extreme, a policy in climatic zones experiencing frequent winter storms and significant accumulations of snow or ice could stress attempting to provide and maintain bare pavement on all paved roads. In between these two extremes resides a compromise in which the agency establishes priorities for snow and ice control measures on the various segments of the highway and street network based on the storm's severity and duration; the relative traffic volume expected to use the road segments; and the importance of certain road segments to critical commerce activity as well as to fire, police, or medical services. In most cases, regardless of the general policy, features that are likely to create special difficulties for drivers during snow and ice conditions, such as bridges; intersections; long, steep hills; entrance and exit ramps with significant grades; and sharp curves will be given immediate attention or even anti-icing treatment in advance of a storm.

  1. General
    Purpose: Define the level of effort expectations for winter maintenance during a winter storm event. One of the goals of winter maintenance is to achieve “passable roadways” within the limitations imposed by climate conditions, the availability of resources, and environmental concerns during a winter storm event. The level of effort is determined based off of the category number each highway is designated. The categories 1-5 are determined by traffic volume. In Washburn County USH 53 is a category 4 and all other state and county highways are a category 5.
  2. Definitions
    A “passable roadway” is defined as a roadway surface that is free from drifts, snow ridges, and as much ice and snow pack as is practical so the roadway can be traveled safely at reasonable speeds. A passable roadway should not be confused with a “dry” or “bare” pavement, which is essentially free of all ice, snow, and free of any moisture from shoulder to shoulder. The definition of “reasonable speed” is considered a speed that a vehicle can travel without losing traction. During and immediately after a winter storm event a reasonable speed will most likely be lower than the posted speed limit. Motorist can expect some inconvenience and will be expected to modify their driving practices to suit road conditions.