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Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

Follow city of Ann Arbor snow plows online in real-time

By Amy Biolchini

Curious as to where a snow plow is on this snowy Friday?


The city of Ann Arbor's online snow plow tracking system allows you to follow the salt trucks on their routes.

From the online portal

If you live in Ann Arbor, you can find out with the city's automated, online tracking system that shows the location and the activity of its salt trucks in real-time.

The online portal, called AVL Web Tracking, works optimally on the Internet Explorer browser as it was designed for corporate use, said Kirk Pennington, field operations supervisor.

To find where the snow plows have been, click the "Map Contents" tab on the left to expand the options, and then click on the "History Layers" field. The map will show the most recent eight hours of data.

Heavy snow began about 6 a.m. Friday. The city of Ann Arbor had its five night shift trucks spread salt on city roads from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday, Pennington said.

The city of Ann Arbor also staffs a call-in snow desk during snow events to respond to resident questions. It can be reached at (734) 794-6367.

Between 6 and 9:30 a.m. Friday, eight trucks were spreading salt and clearing snow from city roadways, Pennington said. After 9:30 a.m., a total of 10 plows were on city streets.

The city's salt crews give first priority to clearing freeway exit roads, including Plymouth Road, Barton Drive, Miller Road, Jackson Road and Washtenaw Avenue, Pennington said.

One truck is assigned to clearing downtown Ann Arbor, which concentrates its efforts on Division, Main, State, William and Liberty, Pennington said.

"Everything is based on traffic volume," Pennington said.

Because of the intensity of the snowfall Friday morning -- a rate of about three-fourths of an inch per hour -- the salt that was spread on Ann Arbor roads was not immediately effective, Pennington said.

Each salt truck driver has a route that's 2.5 hours long -- meaning he won't cross the same section of pavement twice for 2.5 hours. The drivers are instructed to maintain at least one through lane of traffic on the streets. Pennington said that doesn't necessarily mean the drivers will hit bare pavement.

The city can change the timing of traffic signals at 18 intersections for snow and ice events, Pennington said.

Four of those intersections are on Glen Avenue near the University of Michigan medical campus at Ann Street, Catherine Street, Fuller Street and East Huron Street.

Buses have a tendency to get stuck in snowy conditions on the Glen Avenue hill leading towards East Huron Street when they stop at traffic lights on the hill, Pennington said.

Police have the option of enacting a special traffic signal timing at that light to allow for better traffic flow up the hill -- but they didn't trigger the special signal Friday, Pennington said.

"Any time snow is causing delays on the hills they request that the timing be changed," Pennington said.

City of Ann Arbor crews salted that section of Glen Avenue twice Friday at 7:24 a.m. and 8:20 a.m., Pennington said.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

The city salt truck went by but did not have his plow down on Westwood Ave. What a waste of time and gasoline.

Bob W

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

It's my understanding that residential streets are not plowed unless the snowfall exceeds 4". The truck may have just been spreading sand?? Our street has not been plowed all winter, so far, no issues.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

Does it show the guys in pick-up trucks driving over residential sidewalks causing massive ruts on either side of the sidewalk?


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

I do snow removal and have for the past 15 years.. and trucks on sidewalks is a bad idea and the city dose it.. they make machines meant for sidewalks.. if i plowed a sidewalk with a truck i could be fined and also if i push snow across the street i get fined.. some rules need to change or the city should just start following them!!...


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

This is being done by the city.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

Not to mention that doing so is illegal.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

Now that you mention it, this does seem like an ignorant policy. I have noticed at various places the ruts along side the sidewalk.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

Absolutely useless on Chrome (Windows 7 Professional 64-bit). I'll try it again on IE ... but I hate using that browser. Why anyone still codes anything that's not browser-agnostic is beyond me.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Pretty useless in IE too. It takes SO long to refresh that it's practically unusable.

Tyrone Shoelaces

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

"The online portal, called AVL Web Tracking, works optimally on the Internet Explorer browser as it was designed for corporate use" This statement makes no sense. Internet Exploder has nothing to do with "corporate use." Actually, members of corporate IT departments are more likely to be aware of the dangers an inconsistencies involved in the use of IE and generally steer away from its use for security reasons.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

My apologies, the structure of the sentence makes that confusing. Pennington said AVL Web Tracking was designed for corporate use.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

FYI: If you don't have Internet Explorer 8, this online tracking system may not run properly on your internet browser. I'm using Firefox on a MacBook Pro and it's not loading.

Fat Bill

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

Jack...many businesses use specialized Java applications daily; the option to disable is not always practical. Here's hoping for a quick fix...

Jack Eaton

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

a2cents: Don't install Java on any computer. It is a security risk, not worth taking. "January 14, 2013|By Jim Finkle | Reuters "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reiterated advice for computer users to disable Oracle Corp.'s widely used Java software for surfing the Web, saying it still poses risks to users after the company released an emergency update over the weekend. "Unless it is absolutely necessary to run Java in Web browsers, disable it," the Department of Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Readiness Team said on Monday in a posting on its website."

Andy T

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

Chrome on a Mac seems to work fine.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

Good point. I'll download the update I've been avoiding.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

permit java?... works on firefox/imac


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

Amy - nice article, but could you us tell us how to show where those pesky Meter Maids are lurking?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

Amy...did no one tell you that metered parking has a max of 2 hours?

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

If only that was possible! I racked up about 5 parking tickets in Ann Arbor in a matter of 6 months, so I hear ya.