Winter weather is fast approaching, and with snow comes snow plowing.
During the winter months, citizens in Rigby and Jefferson County are required by ordinance to move their vehicles off the road and clear any obstructions that could impede plowing.
Mitch Bradley, head of Rigby public works, said it is difficult for workers to clear off the roads when cars are on the street. He said snow left around cars will blow into the street, making cars in the road the number one issue for the city regarding plowing.
“We end up having to plow their road twice because of the windrows,” Bradley said.
In the county, Public Works Administrator Dave Walrath said the biggest issue arises when citizens plow snow into the road.
“A lot of people plow out their driveways into the road, and that sounds very innocuous,” Walrath said. “But what happens is, they pile it out into the road and it freezes.”
Walrath said when those piles of snow freeze they become a hazard for the crew members plowing as well as for drivers in the area. As with the city, cars need to be off of county roads, Walrath said. Additionally, items that can be moved away from the side of the road, should. Walrath said the county is not liable for damage caused to items within 25 feet or 30 feet on each side of the center line of roads. In subdivisions, the county owns 60 feet of the land from the center of the road — so 30 feet on each side, Walrath said. He said that is typically agreed on when subdivisions are developed.
“They (home owners) don’t realize that, but that’s actually county property,” he said.
In other areas of the county, people own the property up to the middle of the road, but Walrath said the county has what is called a “prescriptive easement.” With a prescriptive easement, the county can legally use 50 feet from the center of the road — 25 feet on each side — without the property owners’ permission.
“We have the ability to maintain a public road,” Walrath said.
When snow plows damage property in the 25 or 30 foot stretch of land extending from the center of the road, it is the property owner — not the county — that is responsible for covering that damage, Walrath said. Walrath said the county will replace mailboxes that are 8 feet from the edge of the pavement if the snowplow physically takes it out. He said the county will not replace it if the snowplow pushes up snow and the snow knocks the mailbox over. He said there is not much people can do, but said the information is nonetheless good for citizens to be aware of.