The Linn County Secondary Road Department is prepared for the 2021-22 winter season. Part of preparation is sharing information with residents about the Secondary Road Department’s hours of operation, snow routes, and snow and ice ordinance and policy.
Snow removal routes on Linn County secondary roads are prioritized by traffic count and road surfacing and are designated as Priority Routes and Standard Routes. There are 30 Priority Routes served by 30 truck snowplows and plow operators. There are 41 Standard Routes served by 30 truck snowplows, 11 motor graders, and their operators. Linn County has approximately 1,200 miles of secondary roads, which is roughly the equivalent of driving from Linn County to Nashville and back.
Maps of the Priority and Standard Routes and Linn County’s snow and ice ordinance and policy are available on Linn County’s website at www.LinnCountyIowa.gov/Engineer or at the Engineer’s Office, 1888 County Home Road, Marion.
Important points of the ordinance and policy include:
- Regular hours of operation for the Secondary Road Department are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. These hours may be extended during a snow event to 4 a.m. - 6 p.m. If it snows more than one inch on a Saturday or Sunday, the maximum hours of operation are 4 a.m. – 6 p.m. Linn County does not operate outside of these maximum hours of operation except in the case of assisting emergency personnel or a declared emergency by the Board of Supervisors or Governor.
- Hard surface roads are given priority during and following snow events.
- Rock roads are plowed to provide access to the hard-surface system. Rock roads are opened to one-lane travel as soon as practicable during regular County operating hours. Road crews attempt to open rock roads to travel within two or three days following the snow event; this is not always possible during heavy snow with wind.
- Linn County does not have a bare or dry pavement policy. Crews apply salt and sand to hard surfaced roads to provide grit and help clear the surface when practicable, particularly on hills, curves, and intersections.
- For resident and traffic emergencies, call 911. Residents are encouraged to keep sufficient supplies of food and fuel on hand to avoid becoming an emergency.
It is important to remember each winter storm has individual characteristics and road crews respond accordingly. In addition, the Secondary Road Department will from time to time test and evaluate various new products, equipment, and methods in order to develop strategies for improving effectiveness and response to winter driving conditions. For these reasons, level of service will not be exactly the same from one road to the next, nor from one storm to the next.
Snow Response Updates
Linn County provides text and email updates to its response to snow events. Subscribe to receive the updates by visiting www.linncountyiowa.gov/notifyme.
Winter Driving Safety Tips
- Remember that speed limits are meant for dry roads, not roads covered in snow and ice. Reduce your speed and increase your following distance as road conditions and visibility worsen.
- Be cautious on bridges and overpasses as they are commonly the first areas to become icy.
- Keep a safe distance when following snow plows. This is critical because snowplows create a swirl of snow that can blind the driver of a car following too closely or cars approaching from the opposite direction.
- Do not stop too closely behind a stopped snowplow. The operator may be preparing to back up and may not see you.
- Do not pass a snowplow unless your visibility is perfectly clear and it is completely safe for you, the snowplow operator, and other vehicles. Snowplow operators may have limited visibility, and the road in front of them may be worse than the road behind.
- Patience is necessary during snow season. The snowplow operator is working to provide safe road conditions for you and your family.
- Use caution when snow banks limit your view of oncoming traffic.
- Monitor road and weather conditions by checking local news stations or online traffic and weather sites.
- Notify the Linn County Secondary Road Department at 319-892-6400 or [email protected] if you are forced to abandon your vehicle in or along a county road. This may assist with your retrieval of the vehicle and reduce negative effect on the snow response.
- Carrying winter survival materials is a good idea. It is particularly important in heavy snow events. When staying with your vehicle, you need a method to signal for help. Winter kits should include bright flagging and flashlight with batteries or emergency beacon, blankets, non-perishable snacks, and water. For additional tips on creating a winter weather safety kit for your vehicle, visit the National Weather Service website.