Winter Road Maintenance
When and where does the snowplowing start?
To ensure equitable service to all residents, each maintenance area has three sub-areas which are rotated through as the “start point” after each snowfall event. This way, no one is always first and no one is always last on the route. There are a total of nine maintenance area graders that clear snow on collector and local roads, and spare graders may be utilized as well. One plow truck is designated to remove snow and apply sand/salt to oil and paved surface roads. Two graders are allocated for snow and ice removal on arterial roads.
During a winter storm, snow-clearing equipment and personnel get ready to clear snow, however, no plowing starts until the storm event stops. It’s more efficient to wait until the storm ceases so plowing will be effective, even though it’s understandable that some might want the plows to start sooner. Starting sooner is not always the best course of action – there are temperatures and conditions when plowing is not effective.
Timing can be severely affected by weather conditions such as the amount of snow, temperatures, blowing wind and reduced visibility. If poor visibility means that travelling motorists and operators cannot see each other on the road, plowing will be delayed until visibility improves for everyone’s safety. Once the snow-clearing rotation starts, plows/graders won’t return to a road until the entire rotation is complete.
How long will it take to clear roads after a snow storm?
This can vary. If there is a significant accumulation, if the snow is very heavy and wet, or if there are strong winds, it can take longer to clear the snow and drifting, and longer to get general clean-up completed on the roads. During normal winter conditions, County gravel roads should be cleared of snow within four days, but in adverse conditions it may take several days longer.
Will the County send a plow to my road if I call to ask?
No. Imagine how much time and money could be spent inefficiently by sending operators off their route to respond to every request from a resident or business. If plows and graders stick to their routes, they will clear the County’s road network as efficiently and quickly as possible, followed by general clean up.
What if I need to get to town and the roads are impassable?
If you have a medical condition or a job where you are required to get to town every day, please plan ahead for bad weather. Check the weather forecast and make your plans accordingly. Most rural residents know that when they choose to live in the country, getting snowed in can happen. Any and all roads can become impassable during winter storms, and it’s important to have food and supplies to last for several days in case of extreme weather.
Are bus routes plowed first?
Some think that the snow-clearing schedule is set by school bus routes, however, school buses travel on so many miles of road that it is impossible to set a priority on one bus route over another. These routes also change annually. After a significant snow fall, school buses and other types of vehicles may not be able to travel during these times, and may also have to wait for snow-clearing to be completed.
Why does the County remove brush from the roadsides?
Flagstaff County intends to maintain roadside ditches to a standard that assists with road safety and improving sightlines, making signage, other vehicles, and approaching wildlife more visible to travellers.
Clearing out the larger, over-reaching trees allows for unobstructed passage of large emergency vehicles and farm machinery. Roadside mulching also helps with proper drainage and drying of the roads due to reduced snow drifting and casting of shade. A dry road has more structural integrity and will cost less to maintain.
I want the trees cleared from the ditch in front of property or along a roadside. Will the County do this or can I do it myself?
Residents are not permitted to clear the ditch in front of their property. The ditch is a right of way owned by Flagstaff County and there are liability and safety concerns with 3rd parties and landowners working on municipal roads.
If you have a specific concern, please contact the Public Works at (780)384-4100.
Doesn’t the County need permission to brush or mulch in my ditch?
Permission is not needed from a landowner to mulch on municipal right-of-ways.
Flagstaff County is responsible for maintaining vegetation within ditches in all rural areas, and we conduct this program annually. Residents will be contacted before any activities that will substantially reduce tree coverage or privacy of a resident’s property.
What if I don’t want the trees mulched in front of my property?
Flagstaff County will only mulch trees and brush within the County right-of-way and will not mulch trees on private land. Attention and care is given to preserving trees wherever possible. Clearing a ditch of trees and brush is typically only done when a public safety concern has been identified or for road works projects.
What time of the year does the County mulch roadsides?
Flagstaff County mulches ditches annually in the fall/winter months both to prevent any harm to migratory birds during their nesting period and because trees and brush are easier to mulch when they are cold.
The County mulched my road in the fall/winter, and now that the snow is gone it looks unappealing – is there anything you can do to improve it?
Mulching will initially change the appearance of the ditch. Typically, newly-mulched areas will re-establish grass within the year, and the appearance improves by mid-summer the following year. Flagstaff County’s roadside mowing equipment will also help break down any debris that remains during the growing seasons when the mowing program is ongoing.
Now that the trees and brush have been mulched, won’t they just grow back next year?
Mulching is one component of Flagstaff County’s program to maintain roadsides. Once the ditch has been cleared of large trees and brush other vegetation, like grasses and pollinator species, can become established. These desirable species will be mowed, and any weeds or regrowing brush will be treated to ensure that the ditches remain clear in future years.
My neighbour has Black Knot in their trees – can the County force them to remove it?
Black Knot is not regulated in Alberta, therefore the County cannot enforce removal of trees that have the disease.
I want to build an approach to my residence or want a field approach. What do I have to do?
The construction of an approach requires the prior approval of Flagstaff County. Contact Public Works to discuss your request. Approval will only be granted where the requested location is considered practical and safe.
View Procedure: PW 004-1 Approaches and Standards: PW 004-1. For more information, visit Road Maintenance.
Does the County sell gravel?
Yes, the County does sell gravel. All sales of gravel shall be limited for ratepayers to 150 tonnes of gravel per year per residential/farm/acreage site. Gravel is not available for sale to commercial users. Anyone wishing to purchase gravel must contact the Public Works Department to make arrangements or to obtain information regarding a list of available aggregate products and pricing. Gravel will be loaded at the County’s convenience when the loader is at the pit. Trucking of gravel must be arranged by the purchaser. The County does not haul gravel for private use.
For more information regarding gravel sale and prices, please contact Public Works at (780) 384-4123 or visit: Gravel Sales.
Does the County sell culverts?
Yes, the County does sell used culverts to County ratepayers only, at half the purchase price. The County only sells new culverts for use in approaches on road allowances, for use on private property in an emergency situation or to local municipalities.
For more information, please contact Public Works at (780) 384-4123 or visit Road Maintenance.
There is a sign down on one of our County roads. Who do I call?
- If there is a sign down on a County road, please call the Public Works Office at (780) 384-4100.
- If the sign is down on a primary or secondary highway such as Hwy 13, Hwy 36, Hwy 53, SH608, SH855, SH870, SH856, SH602, SH861, SH869, or SH881, then please contact Emcon Services Inc. at 780-449-0502. These roads are all under the jurisdiction of Alberta Transportation.
For more information, visit: Road Maintenance.
Is there a program for residential dust control in Flagstaff County?
Yes, please click HERE.
How long does it take to clear all of the County roads after a snow fall?
Typically, it takes four days to clear all roads in the County. For more information, visit: Road Maintenance.
How often does my road get gravelled?
- Typically, gravel roads are on a five-year cycle, although some may be graveled at different intervals due to the “Average Annual Daily Traffic” and “Types of Vehicles.”
- Roads may have additional gravel applied to short sections that have deteriorated during the cycle period.
For more information, visit: Gravel Program.
How often does a gravel road get bladed?
A gravel road will be bladed approximately once per month. For more information, visit: Road Maintenance.
When is a Multiple Load Road Use Agreement (MLRUA) required?
- A MLRUA is required when more than ten (10) loads of 11,797 kg or greater are hauled in a 24-hour period to or from the same location. The Multiple Load Road Use Agreement (MLRUA) and permit can be obtained through Roadata Services Ltd. at 1-888-730-3745.
- The County will undertake a pre- and post-inspection of the road(s) to assess road conditions. An administration inspection fee of two hundred and fifty ($250) will be charged to the permit holder.
- This applies to the following: energy or oil/gas industry, agriculture industry and private trucking companies.
For more information, visit: Multiple Load Road Use Agreements.
Where do I obtain an Overload permit?
Roadata Services Ltd. has been contracted to provide all permitting services within Flagstaff County. Please call 1-888-830-7623 to obtain a permit.
I want a ‘Children at Play’ sign installed adjacent to my residence. What do I have to do?
To request a ‘Children at Play’ sign, contact Public Works at (780) 384-4123. The person requesting the sign will be responsible for the cost of each sign; $225 per sign (price includes installation). Once payment is received, the County will order the sign(s) and complete installation.
My water meter has malfunctioned. Who is responsible to replace it?
As per section 13 (2) of Schedule A of Flagstaff County’s Utilities Bylaw 01/22, a customer is responsible to pay for the cost of repairing, replacing or otherwise remedying any damage to or loss of facilities located on the customer’s property unless the circumstances leading to the damage to or loss of facilities is determined in the Chief Administrative Officer’s sole discretion to have been beyond the customer’s control. For more information, click HERE.
What is the Community Aggregate Payment (CAP) Levy?
The concept of the Community Aggregate Payment (CAP) Levy was developed by the Aggregate Resource Development Task Force, consisting of representatives from the AAMD&C (now known as Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA)), Alberta Sand & Gravel Association, and the Alberta Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association. The participants agreed that sand and gravel operations should provide more funding for improvements and other local initiatives to demonstrate more clearly that the community benefits from these operations. The task force proposed that this community benefit should take the form of a payment to the local municipality by the sand and gravel operator based upon the amount of material shipped.
In September 2016, Flagstaff County Council passed a Community Aggregate Payment Levy Bylaw, with a rate of $0.25 per tonne of aggregate. Click HERE to review Bylaw 05/16.
Certain aggregate shipments are exempt from the levy, including:
- A shipment made from a pit owned or leased by the Crown for a use or project that is being undertaken by or on behalf of the Crown.
- A shipment made from a pit owned or leased by a municipality for a use or project that is being undertaken by or on behalf of a municipality.
- A shipment from a pit owned or leased by the Crown or a municipality for a use or project that is being undertaken by or on behalf of the Crown or a municipality.