Do You Know Your Virginia Snow Removal Laws?

snow removal laws

Heavy snowfall is a rare occurrence in Virginia, but it does happen at least once every year or two. When the snow does pile up on streets and sidewalks, who is responsible for plowing or shoveling it away? Our guide to snow removal laws in different parts of Virginia will help you sort it out.

Northern Virginia

  • Fairfax County
    • The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is responsible for clearing public roads in Fairfax County. Roads are cleared on a priority basis, starting with interstates and high traffic roads.
    • Clearing snow from private roads is the responsibility of homeowner or condominium associations. Individual residents are responsible if no such association exists.
    • Neither the state nor the county is responsible for clearing sidewalks and public walkways. Residents and business owners are not legally obligated to clear these areas but are urged to help.
  • Prince William County
    • VDOT is responsible for clearing public roads in Prince William County. Road are prioritized by traffic volume, beginning with interstates and main thoroughfares.
    • The county does not clear sidewalks and other walkways. Private citizens are asked to help clear these areas, but are under no legal obligation to do so.
  • Loudoun County
    • VDOT is responsible for clearing all state and county roads in Loudoun County. Roads are prioritized by type and traffic volume.
    • Loudon County residents are responsible for clearing snow and ice from public walkways adjoining their home or business. Walkways must be cleared within six hours after snow stops falling. If it snows overnight, snow must be cleared by noon of the next day. Failure to follow these rules can result in a fine of up to $250.
  • Arlington County
    • VDOT is responsible for clearing state roads in Arlington. The county is responsible for clearing secondary public roads.
    • Residents and property owners are required to clear snow from walkways adjacent to their property. Snow must be cleared within 24-36 hours of snowfall. Failure to comply may result in a civil penalty of up to $100.
  • City of Alexandria
    • City government is responsible for clearing all public roads in Alexandria. Plows are owned and operated by the city or by contractors hired by the city. Road are cleared in priority order.
    • Alexandria residents are responsible for clearing public walkways adjoining their property. The resident or property owner must clear walkways within 24-72 hours after snow stops falling, depending on the severity of the storm. City government will clear walkways that adjoin public buildings and facilities.

Greater Richmond Area

  • Chesterfield County
    • VDOT is responsible for clearing all public roads in Chesterfield County. Roads are cleared in priority order, beginning with interstates and high traffic roads.
    • Chesterfield does not have any county ordinances regarding snow removal. Individual developments and homeowner associations may have requirements, but the county does not enforce them.
      “In addition to providing building maintenance and grounds maintenance for the common areas, your assessment payments to the Association provide for … snow removal.”
      Sycamore Mews Homeowner’s Association Bylaws, Section 1
  • Henrico County
    • VDOT is responsible for snow removal on state roads in Henrico. Henrico County government is responsible for all snow removal on county-maintained roads. Roads are cleared in order of priority, with high traffic roads being cleared first, and snow removal efforts are carried on 24 hours a day until the snow is cleared.
    • The county’s snow removal page (see link above) states that snow removal on private property is the responsibility of the owner; however, there is no county ordinance requiring snow removal by law.
  • City of Richmond
    • VDOT is responsible for snow removal on state-maintained roads in Richmond, including interstates. The city’s street maintenance department handles snow removal on all other roads. Roads are cleared on a priority basis.
    • Property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks and public walkways adjacent to their property. Walkways must be cleared within 6 hours after snowfall ends or by 11 a.m. in the event of overnight snowfall. Violating the snow removal ordinance is a Class 4 misdemeanor.
  • Hanover County
    • VDOT is responsible for snow removal on all state and county roads in Hanover County. Developers or owners are required to provide for snow removal on roads not accepted by VDOT as state or county roads.
    • Hanover County has no county ordinance regarding snow removal from sidewalks and other public walkways.

Tidewater

  • City of Virginia Beach
    • VDOT is responsible for clearing interstates and some other high-priority state roads in Virginia Beach. The city is responsible for all other public roads, which are cleared in order of priority.
    • Property owners or occupants are required to clear snow from public walkways adjoining their property within six hours after “such removal can first be reasonably effected” (Code of the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Section 33-14).
  • City of Norfolk
    • VDOT is responsible for snow removal on interstates and other major roads in Norfolk. The city is responsible for all other roads, which are cleared on a schedule of Priority 1 and Priority 2 roads.
    • Owners or occupants are required to clear snow from adjoining sidewalks. Snow must be removed within three hours after snowfall has stopped. If snow falls after 3 p.m., it must be removed by 11 a.m. the following day.
  • City of Chesapeake
    • The City of Chesapeake is responsible for clearing all city roads. Roads are prioritized by traffic volume and emergency routes. The city will pre-treat roadways with a brine solution when possible. VDOT is responsible for interstates.
    • Chesapeake does not have any municipal ordinances regarding the removal of snow from sidewalks and other walkways.
  • City of Newport News
    • The Department of Public Safety coordinates snow removal in Newport News. The city is plowed in seven zones, which are further broken down by priority with main roads being first. The Director of Public Safety may also institute No Parking areas along main roads in order to expedite plowing.
    • Occupants or owners are required to clear sidewalks adjacent to their property of snow and ice. Snow must be cleared within five daylight hours after snowfall ends. Ice must be removed or covered with sand to prevent slipping within four daylight hours.
  • City of Hampton
    • The city government is responsible for clearing snow from public roadways in Hampton. VDOT is responsible for interstates.
    • All sidewalks and walkways must be cleared of snow and ice by the occupant or owner. Snow or ice must be removed within three hours after snow has stopped falling or by 9 a.m. if the precipitation happened overnight.

In almost all localities listed above, residential streets will not be plowed. Any snow removal in these areas is the responsibility of residents or homeowner associations.

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Photo: Jim Menard

 

 

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