Every time Chicago's snow plows do a single pass of the city's entire route system, they travel some 9,456 total lane miles  -  Source: City of Chicago/Government Fleet

Every time Chicago's snow plows do a single pass of the city's entire route system, they travel some 9,456 total lane miles

Source: City of Chicago/Government Fleet

The city of Chicago will soon have snow plows named by its residents. The city recently launched its "You Name a Snow Plow" contest. Residents are encouraged to use their "ingenuity and imagination" to come up with unique names for six plows, one for each of the city's snow districts.

Residents can only enter one name, which must be less than 50 characters, on the city's website. Submissions will be accepted until 20,000 names have been entered, or until January 6, 2023, whichever comes first. Department of Streets and Sanitation staff will select 50 finalists, and residents will then be able to vote for their favorites from January 15-31. The six names with the most votes will then be divided up among one plow in each of the city's snow districts.

Residents can view the fleet at work in real-time using the plow tracker. It shows users where the plows are, what roads they have serviced at what time, and what roads are still pending work.

Chicago's plow tracker allows residents to see real-time updates on which roads have been plowed. The blue dots represent individual snow plows.  -  Source: City of Chicago

Chicago's plow tracker allows residents to see real-time updates on which roads have been plowed. The blue dots represent individual snow plows.

Source: City of Chicago

About the Windy City's Snow Plow Fleet

City officials refer to Chicago's fleet of snow plows as "Snow Fighting Trucks." Every time the trucks do a single pass of the city's entire route system, they travel some 9,456 total lane miles, according to the city's website. The Department of Streets & Sanitation (DSS) coordinates the city's snow and ice control efforts from its Snow Command center. It allows staff to access and view a network of cameras and pavement sensors to get an accurate assessment of its pavement conditions citywide.

The city tracks incoming weather systems via Doppler radar and through constant communication with its meteorological consultants and the National Weather Service, according to its website. It combines those technologies along with its telematics devices on all of its trucks to strategically deploy snow personnel to up to 280+ snow routes. They consist of main city streets, neighborhood streets, and Lake Shore Drive -- one of the city's busiest roadways.

Last snow season was the first year the city fully implemented the turn-by-turn snow routing system, which allows for real-time tracking of the percentage of completion during snow clearing programs, a spokesperson for the Department of Streets and Sanitation told Government Fleet. The technology allows the department to measure efficiencies and quickly identify any issues with residential snow removal so it can adjust its resources when needed.

Most of Chicago's side streets are cleared by full size Snow Fighting Trucks, while its narrowest streets side streets are cleaned by a fleet of over 20 smaller plows. Those include 4x4 pick-up trucks with plows and heavy salt capacity.

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