Snowplow Policy


Keeping the roads safe during the winter months is a challenge in northern Wisconsin.
The Town of Washburn is committed to keeping the roads in a condition that makes travel safe and possible. The purpose of this document is to set forth the Town’s snowplow policy and inform citizens of the important factors and associated conditions involved in providing this service. While the policy will not answer every question and with the changing of weather conditions we all need to be flexible and patient.

In accordance with Wisconsin Statutes, no commercial driveways or parking lots may be plowed by the town. The Town, its officials, and employees will not be held responsible for any personal injuries or property damage when the Town of Washburn is engaged in snow plowing

The Town of Washburn has about 130 miles of roads. Thirty of those miles are in the “residential” area of the town with the rest being in the National Forest.  The 30 miles is divided in two sections with one of the crew being to the north and one to the south. The number of miles in the National Forest that need to be plowed varies according to the timber sales that are active each winter. There are certain roads that are kept open all year  FR 500, 251, 252 and 236 are examples.

During a snow event there are priorities in which roads are plowed first. The main roads which are the main pass through roads are first. Examples of those roads are Church Corner, Wannebo, and Ondossagon Roads. Secondary roads, such as Nevers, North, South and West Maple Hill Roads, and the Engoe Roads are next.  The third priority would be the dead-end/crossroads such as Hove Lane, Pajala Road, and Bjork Road. During the school term, the school bus routes are also considered as being high priority.  The Forest Roads are plowed next. These are roads where there are active timber sales.  Driveways are plowed last.

The town crew typically begin their day at 6:00 a.m. If there is a heavy snowfall they may start earlier. The goal is to get roads cleared before people head out to work and then again before they return. The hours may be altered as determined by weather conditions, the forecast and to provide a safe working situation.

Each storm is different. The Road Supervisor will take many variables into consideration in the decision to plow or to not plow. Some of those variables include temperature, wind, conditions prior to storm and during the storm, forecast, previously sanded roads, rain and ice build up, and the amount of snow that falls. Taking all of these factors into consideration, it is typical that plowing may begin when 3 inches of snow has fallen. A major exception may be if there is ice build up previous to the snow fall. In that situation leaving a layer of snow increases safety and decreases ice build up. It is not an exact science and there may be times when the decision of when or if to plow is questioned. The first and most important aspect is the safety of those on the road. The Road Supervisor will be in consultation with the Town Board during major snow events. If you have a question or concern during a major snow event contact a member of your town board rather than the road crew.

The Town of Washburn will send out Snow Plow request forms each fall. Completed Snow Plow request forms are to be sent to the town treasurer by October 31st. A late fee will be assessed and added to the snowplow bill if not received by this date – except for residents moving in after that time. Driveways will not be plowed until the Snowplow Request form is turned into the town.
Renters must submit a deposit as stated with the request form. The deposit will be held as an advance payment for the current season. If the final bill for services is less than the deposit, a refund will be issued at the end of the plowing season.

Each yearly bill must be paid in full within the prescribed time assigned or it will be considered delinquent.  In accordance with Wisconsin Statutes, all delinquent bills, whether the responsibility of the landowner or a renter, become a lien against the property and will be added to the tax statement as a special assessment resulting in the denial of future snow plowing service.

Described below are the snowplowing options provided by the Town:

  • Traditional Driveway Snow Plowing: Plowing will generally be done when there is an accumulation of 5 inches or more of snow, at the discretion of the crew members. Please remember the Town’s primary responsibility is to maintain town roads thus, depending on the snowfall amount, there may be a delay of one or more days before driveways will be plowed.
  • Plow on Request: Residents who elect to handle snow removal themselves or through private contractors but who find that they need assistance after an unusually heavy snowfall or with a buildup of snow, may choose this service. Upon request, the Town will “wing back” snow banks at the same rates described. This service is contingent upon the driveway meeting the same criteria described. When requesting this service, leave a telephone message at the Town Garage at 715-373-2567.

If either of the above services is desired, please fill out the Snowplow Request form.

Improvements or structures that need protection such as well heads, septic systems and mail boxes must be flagged and clearly visible to the equipment operators.

Driveways to be plowed by the Town must meet the requirements described in the Town’s Driveway Ordinance (available on the Town website). These requirements include:

  • Minimum road surface width – 12 feet
  • Minimum width clearance between trees – 24 feet
  • Minimum height clearance free of trees, limbs, wires, etc. – 14 feet
  • Maximum grade – 10%
  • The driveway corridor must be cleared of obstacles.
  • There must be room for large equipment to turn around.

The Town is not able to subsidize the costs of plowing driveways with public funds.

The Town of Washburn reserves the right to deny driveway snow plowing if requirements are not met or if there are delinquent payments. Any damage to Town or emergency vehicles due to non-compliance will be billed to the resident/landowner.

When you take care of your own snow removal please be aware that pushing snow onto or across roads from private driveways can cause accidents, death and/or damage.
Keep garbage containers out of the right of way so the plows can safely clear the roads without hitting your containers.
Parking your car on the town road can cause safety issues. With minimal shoulders, a car parked on the road can be in the way of plows and be in the way of other traffic.

Mailboxes must be properly installed in a way that handles snow coming off the plows as they go past. The town will take responsibility only if there is a direct hit by the plow to a properly installed mailbox. Information on how mailboxes should be installed to limit mailbox damage can be found on the Town of Washburn website and will be included with the initial letter/application form.

Care will be given to leaving the least deposits of snow in driveways as possible, but cannot be completely avoided. To keep the snow in your driveway to a minimum, when plowing your driveway put as much snow as possible to the right side of your driveway as you are exiting.  Or at least 20 feet into your driveway rather than on the roadside.

During blizzard conditions, plows may be pulled from the roads until the weather lessens. Please stay off the roads until the plows can get out.

If there is an emergency situation, ambulance and/or fire department, call 911 or the Sheriff’s Department at 715-373-6120 and the response will be put into motion.
Having a doctor appointment is not considered a medical emergency.
The concern that you or a family member may become ill is not a medical emergency.
Be prepared for winter, make sure you have adequate fuel to heat your home and supplies. Running low on fuel or supplies is not considered an emergency.