Winter Maintenance FAQ


Snow Removal

Will changes to some snow plow routes this year mean a reduction in my service?

While the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is looking at greater efficiencies to achieve savings, we will continue to meet our high snow and ice control service standards. We won't comprise road safety to save money. If we get a harder winter than what we expect, we'll continue to provide the highest quality of snow and ice control. We have the staff and plow trucks we need to get the job done to keeps our roads safe.

How soon after a snow storm will my road be plowed?

We're on the job day and night, 24/7, keeping our roads as clear and safe as possible. Road clearing is scheduled according to the kind of road and traffic levels. This allows for maximum mobility for the most amount of people during stormy weather.

The plowing priorities and service levels are:

•  100-Series and Trunk highways and other high traffic roads - within 8 hours after snow stops

•  Local paved roads, including most subdivisions and residential streets- within 24 hours after snow stops

•  Gravel roads - within 24 hours after snow stops



What are the salting and sanding levels of service?

Our salting and sanding levels of service are:

• 100-Series highway and major roads with high traffic - salted to achieve bare pavement. Salt is applied before, during and after a storm if required.

•  Major roads with high traffic - salted to achieve a 2.5-metre to 5-metre bare strip along the centre line. Salt is applied at the beginning of a storm and after a storm, if required.

•  Local paved roads with low traffic - salted to achieve a 1-metre to 2.5-metre bare strip. Salt is applied only after a storm.

•  Gravel roads - A salt-sand mixture is used to achieve a snow packed surface.



When do you use salt vs. sand?

We strive to provide the highest possible level of service and safety in the most environmentally responsible way.

Salt is the most effective and affordable anti-icing agent, however there are areas where a salt-sand mixture is used instead. These areas include:

  • Near wells and ground water supplies to protect the water
  • In environmentally sensitive areas
  • On bridges, because it's less corrosive
  • On gravel roads, where it gives better traction



How do I find out about road conditions?

•  Visit our website at www.gov.ns.ca/tran/cameras/ for information on our roads, and to view webcams

•  For conditions on provincial highways, dial 511

•  For local road information, dial 1-888-432-3233



How can I report a dangerous road condition?

If you are aware of a dangerous road condition, please report it by calling 1-888-432-3233.



What do I do if I'm facing a medical emergency, and need my street plowed to get out?

Call 911 for medical and other emergencies. We will clear roads for emergency vehicles at the request of the emergency services provider.



Do I have recourse if a plow hits and/or damages my car, mailbox or composter?

•  The department is not responsible for cars, mailboxes or composters damaged during routine snow clearing.

•  The department's snowplow operators take as much care as possible while plowing, however illegally parked cars and unattended vehicles could be damaged, especially when visibility is reduced by storm conditions.

•  Mailboxes should be placed far enough back from the road to allow snowplows to pass safely during regular plowing. They should also be placed high enough off the ground to be seen in deep snow.



Why are winter parking bans in place?

•  The department enforces winter parking bans in many communities throughout Nova Scotia.

•  The parking ban helps snow removal crews clear roads quickly and safely after snow storms.

•  The regulation applies to drivers in communities in 14 municipalities and does not allow parking on roads maintained by the department between 1 .m. and 7 a.m.

•  Drivers are also restricted from parking vehicles on highways and streets from one hour after a snowstorm begins to two hours after it has stopped.

•  A complete list of communities with restricted parking can be found on the department's website at www.gov.ns.ca/tran/winter

•  Drivers who ignore the winter parking ban face penalties under the Motor Vehicle Act.



Does the department plow gravel roads?

Yes, we plow gravel roads and apply a salt-sand mixture to assist in traction. The result is a snow packed surface.



Safe Winter Driving

When should I be concerned about black ice?

Black ice can form instantly, when warm air meets an ice-cold road. It's most often found on bridges, overpasses and in shaded areas, creating an invisible sheet of ice, however it can form on almost any road.



At what distance should I follow other vehicles during the winter months?

It can take further to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement. Be sure to maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to allow for adequate breaking space.



What should I do to ensure my car is in top working order for winter driving?

•  Winter tires in good condition are essential to safe winter driving.

•  Be sure to also keep your windows clear, regularly check fluid levels, and repair or replace lights, brakes, belts and hoses when needed.

•  Have a winter check done by an authorized mechanic to ensure your car is prepared for the winter months.



What should be in my winter survival kit in my trunk?

You never know when you may find yourself in an emergency situation. Being prepared with a survival kit will help get you through a stall or accident easier. Keep a winter survival kit, with supplies such as:


Emergency equipment you should have in your car
Blanket Flash light + batteries
Matches Extra clothing
Food pack with chocolate, nuts or dried fruit Deep can to melt snow or hold a candle

Plastic garbage bag to provide a vapour barrier over clothing Flash flag that can be tied to the aerial of your car