Howard County Snow Removal Rules
Howard County does not maintain any sidewalks, including snow removal, with exception of the sidewalks adjacent to County buildings (libraries, offices, etc.). The owner of property abutting a sidewalk in a public right-of-way is responsible for removing snow from the sidewalk within 48 hours after the snow has fallen. In the event of a multi-unit building with more than one occupant, it shall be the duty of the lessor to remove the snow unless the lessor has obligated a tenant who is actually occupying the property to do so. (See Howard County Code, Section 18.402(h)(1).) This applies to public streets and is applicable to sidewalks adjacent to public property. However, per Section 18.402(h)(2), if the County Executive declares a state of emergency under Section 6.103 of the County Code, the County Executive may extend the time to remove snow.
If a property owner has not removed the snow within the allotted time frame, you may want to contact the property owner and advise him or her of the County Code. If you are unsure who owns a property, contact our Real Estate Services Division at 410-313-2330. If you have an exact address, they can look up the property owner and may be able to give you a contact name and number.
Another idea is to reach out and ask the property owner if he or she needs assistance. Although the property owner might like to comply with the law, many residents are physically unable to shovel snow and ice and are hesitant to request help from neighbors or friends. Your thoughtfulness can make a big difference to someone who might otherwise be unable to cope.
As a last resort, to file a complaint, contact the Howard County Police Department at 410-313-2200.
Howard County Snow Operational Procedures
At the beginning of a storm, de-icing materials are spread first to prevent the bonding of snow or ice to the road surface. Then, depending on the intensity of the storm, plowing operations follow.
The County’s 3,649-road system is divided into a series of routes with a truck and operator assigned to each. Roads within those routes are prioritized for service into three categories: primary (Category A), secondary (Category B) and residential (Category C). Primary and secondary roads receive the first service to ensure that public safety vehicles can provide service to residents. Drivers then concentrate their efforts on local residential roads. All County roads are serviced before the Bureau halts its efforts.
The Bureau of Highways operates under a three-tiered level of response. The level of effort is determined by the various elements of the storm.
- Level I: Only Primary (Category A) roads are serviced in order to maintain critical services such as fire, ambulance, or police. At this level, inconvenience to the traveling public is likely.
- Level II: Only Primary (Category A) and Secondary (Category B) roads are serviced. This could cause minor inconvenience. However, for the most part, the public is not adversely affected.
- Level III: All County roads (Categories A, B, & C) are serviced with little or no inconvenience to the traveling public.
During a typical snowstorm of 6 to 12″, the County’s goal is to have the entire County Road System cleared within 12 to 18 hours after the storm ends. All County roads are serviced before the Bureau halts its efforts. That system comprises existing dedicated and accepted roads, prescribed County-owned facilities or other areas or roads formally identified by the Director of Public Works. The Bureau is only responsible for the removal of ice and/or snow from roads within this designation
Snow Plow Tracker
You can track the progress of our snow removal equipment via the County’s Snow Plower Tracker. The tracker allows residents to monitor progress across four different time frames while snow removal is underway. Residents are able to see if their street has been treated in the last four hours, between four and eight hours ago, between eight and 12 hours ago, or more than 12 hours ago. The tracker also aggregates highway traffic camera views, weather alerts and real-time traffic information into the display, providing residents with a one-stop shop for storm recovery information.