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Snow and Ice Removal

In winter, snow and ice removal operations are critical to maintaining the safety and fluidity of the network. The following information is intended to shed light on the activities carried out by the ministère des Transports et de la Mobilité durable on nearly 32,000 kilometres of roads throughout Québec.

Snow Clearing of Roads

To do their job properly, snowplow operators must operate at a maximum speed of 50 km/h.

Too high a speed can:

  • affect the quality of snow removal operations;
  • drop the snow behind the vehicle rather than push it off the road;
  • reduce road user visibility;
  • compact or push the snow less effectively, since it is then spread outside the traffic lane.

When snow removal takes place on a road that has more than one lane of traffic, such as highways, several snow removal trucks are used. They have no choice but to stay in the lane to be plowed even if it is a passing lane.

General notice

No Overtaking

You should not pass snowplows that are travelling in close formation. It is strongly discouraged to join a snow removal convoy even if the spacing between vehicles allows it.

Road De-Icing

Successful de-icing of the roadway begins with proper snow removal. The less snow remaining on the road, the more effective the de-icing operation will be. This means that the road can be returned to safe driving conditions more quickly.

One of the most common products used to de-ice roads is salt. It is used to prevent snow and ice from adhering to the roadway or to break up the layer of snow or ice that has already formed by melting it.

Salt needs moisture, heat and time to dissolve and form a solution effective enough to clear the roadway. It is therefore rarely applied on roadways at temperatures below -15 °C.

When temperatures are below -15 °C, the application of abrasive products, such as sand or small stones, is prioritized. Abrasives do not melt snow or ice. Rather, their role is to maintain the necessary traction between a vehicle’s tires and the roadway and to allow safe travel.

Road Weather Information Systems

To assist in their decision making, the ministère’s winter maintenance operations have a network of over 50 stationary road weather information stations and over 240 mobile road weather information stations installed in vehicles.

These stations provide information about:

  • Roadway surface temperature;
  • Air temperature;
  • Network traffic;
  • Roadway condition (snow covered, ice covered, etc.);
  • Dew point temperature;
  • Management.

Last update: March 20, 2024


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