Snow Policy and Procedures

In 2000, encouraged by the Helena City Commission, our city streets division created a snow and ice control plan to provide the general public and City officials with insight into the complexity of snow and ice control operations. It also summarize policies and procedures to be followed by City personnel.

The plan is reviewed and updated as new insights, tools, and implementation ideas are recognized and tested.

To view the most recent Snow and Ice Plan, click here.

Emergency Snow Routes

The following streets are established and designated as emergency snow routes within the city (10 miles):

East-West Streets:

  • Broadway - Park Ave to Colonial Drive
  • Helena Ave – Last Chance to Railroad Ave
  • 6th Ave - Park Ave to Lamborn St
  • 11th Ave - Park Ave to Montana Ave

North-South Streets:

  • Benton Ave - Custer Ave to Neill Ave
  • California - 11th Ave to Winne St
  • Colonial – Fee St to Broadway
  • Hannaford St – Prospect Ave to 11th Ave
  • Henderson St – Custer to LeGrande
  • Park Ave - Neill Ave to Cruse
  • Rodney - Helena Ave to Broadway

If you have an area you would like the Streets Division to look at, please contact them at 406-447-1566 or email them at citystreetsdivision(at)helenamt.gov or fill out the general concern form. Be sure to describe the location of the issue by providing the name of the street and the closest cross street or streets to assist staff in locating the it so it can addressed.

Frequently Asked Questions: Emergency Snow Routes

  • Which streets are designated as emergency snow routes within the city?

    The following streets are established and designated as emergency snow routes within the city:

    East-West Streets:

    • Broadway - Park Ave to Colonial Drive
    • Helena Ave - Last Chance to Railroad Ave
    • 6th Ave - Park Ave to Lamborn St
    • 11th Ave - Park Ave to Montana Ave

    North-South Streets:

    • Benton Ave - Custer Ave to Neill Ave
    • California - 11th Ave to Winne St
    • Colonial – Fee St to Broadway
    • Hannaford St – Prospect Ave to 11th Ave
    • Henderson St – Custer to LeGrande
    • Park Ave - Neill Ave to Cruse
    • Rodney - Helena Ave to Broadway
  • How many miles of streets did the prior emergency snow routes cover? How many miles of streets will the new emergency snow routes cover?

    The prior emergency snow routes covered over 50 miles. The new emergency snow routes will cover just over 10 miles.

  • Won’t reducing the number of emergency snow routes lead to snow piling up on streets that used to be emergency snow routes?

    Reducing the number and miles of emergency snow routes will ensure that plows can clear the main routes, without also having to clear non-emergency routes before returning to the main routes. Non-emergency routes will still be plowed as part of the priority plowing plan, but the major routes used by the majority of Helena residents will have first priority during a heavy snow event.

  • Why is the City towing vehicles from the new emergency snow routes?

    Especially in the heavy winter of 2017-2018, it became clear that cars parked along the roadways were making it nearly impossible for plows to clear the emergency snow routes.  This led to narrow roadways and necessitated a new, active towing policy. 

  • Where should I park my vehicle, as soon as more than 2” of snow is predicted to accumulate?

    The best location may be a nearby side street that is not a designated emergency snow route.

  • If my residence is on an emergency snow route, and I drive my vehicle to work before 8:00 am and return to my residence after 5:00 pm, will I still have to move my vehicle?

    No, as long as your vehicle is not parked on an emergency snow route between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, you will not need to move your vehicle unless:

    • You are parked on Benton Avenue between West Lyndale and Bishop Carroll Drive or East Broadway between North California Street and Saddle Drive and East Broadway between North Montana Avenue and North Sanders Street, in which case parking is prohibited between 8 pm and 5 am; or
    • Your trailer, RV, boat, or other stored items are parked within the public right-of-way between November 1 and April 15.
  • Why are trailers, RVs, boats or other stored items not permitted to be parked on public streets between November 1 and April 15, whereas regular vehicles are not subject to the prohibition?

    Plowing next to these stored items over time narrows the roadway more than other vehicles, causing a safety issue for the travelling public. The City ordinance allows the City to tow these stored items from the right-of-way between November 1 and April 15.

  • How are residents being notified of these new requirements?

    How are residents being notified of these new requirements?

    Public outreach will include a direct mailing of the changes to all residents who receive a utility bill, door hangers on residences along the revised snow routes, interviews with the local paper, TV stations, and radio programs. The changes will also be posted on the City website and social media.

  • Why not leave the requirements as they were in past years?

    In past years, major streets became nearly inaccessible due to:

    • The high number of emergency snow routes;
    • Cars parked on emergency snow routes during plowing hours;and
    • Trailers, RVs, and boats being parked on the street for long periods.
  • Is there a map of the new emergency snow routes available?

  • How will I find my car if it has been towed?

    First check in the vicinity, then check the city website at www.helenamt.gov/wheresmycar 

  • Is the city responsible for plowing all streets within the city limits?

    The Montana Department of Transportation provides snow plowing and traction control on State maintained traffic routes through Helena. These include:

    • Euclid Avenue
    • Montana Avenue
    • Prospect Avenue
    • Eleventh Avenue
    • Cedar Street
    • Custer Avenue

    To report a problem on roads maintained by the Montana Department of Transportation, click here.

    Private drives and parking lots are the responsibility of property owners. This includes private streets commonly associated with condo or townhouse associations.