Ongoing Sweeping Program
The City of Longmont has a street sweeping program for many reasons including water quality, air quality, safety, road maintenance, and aesthetics. It’s important to understand that the primary focus of the program, though, is to protect our air and water quality.
The City sweeps over 350 centerline miles of streets. Street sweeping removes tons (literally!) of debris and contaminants annually from the streets that would, otherwise, pollute our air and rivers.
Street sweeping removes debris from the gutter that would be washed down the storm drain into our ditches and creeks. In addition to being unsightly, this debris can block the catch basins and other stormwater facilities, causing localized flooding during heavy rains.
An equally important, but less visible benefit is the removal of metal particles, and other hazardous waste products left by passing vehicles. Although they are virtually invisible, these particles can be extremely harmful to the fish and other wildlife if they reach our waterways.
Street sweeping is an effective method of removing both the large and microscopic pollutants that collect on City streets.
Natural and man-made sources of particulate matter can collect on the streets and pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system. Street sweeping using certified equipment is done to reduce the amount of particulate matter stirred up by vehicular traffic on paved roadways. You may have noticed that the sweeping process creates some dust when our vehicles are working, even though we try to minimize dust with wetting systems or other equipment attached to the sweepers. Although there is a small loss of particulate matter during sweeping, the process is effective and studies show the reduction of air and water pollution.
Even small debris on roadways can create safety hazards, such as greater braking distance, increased risk of skidding and loss of control. Street sweeping removes such debris and other material from the roadways and bike lanes, improving safety for both vehicles and cyclists.
When and Where We Sweep
The chart below provides a general overview of our street sweeping program. Arterial and collector streets as well as Longmont’s downtown receive the most traffic, thus debris accumulation is greater in these areas, so they are swept more frequently.
The street sweeping routes and scheduling have been designed to not interfere with trash collection and to ensure that bike paths and bike lanes are captured. Additionally, it is our standard practice to sweep snow routes after snow events.
|| 3 times/year
||Once each for spring, summer, and fall.|
|| 9 times/year
||Approximately monthly during spring, summer, and fall or April through October.|
||9 times/year||Approximately monthly during spring, summer, and fall or April through October.|
|| 6 times/year
||Approximately every other month during spring, summer, and fall or April through October. Sweeping occurs at night.
|Approximately monthly during spring, summer, and fall or April through October. In addition, before and/or after parades and downtown events. Sweeping occurs at night.|
* Note: During sweeping of residential routes, the arterials and collectors within that route will be swept.
** Note: Bike paths and lanes will be swept with scheduled routes in collectors and arterials.
Why the City cleans only streets with curbs
The accumulation of debris at the curb is caused by the design of the street and vehicular movement. Streets are designed with a crown in the middle sloping toward the sides. Water and debris move toward the curb and gutter areas. Vehicle movement scatters debris to the edges of traffic lanes.
Streets with no curbs are affected by the same factors as curbed streets, but with no curb the debris is dispersed onto areas adjacent to the paved surfaces. Uncurbed streets are, in effect, self-cleaning.
Resources and Equipment
Longmont currently has three street sweeping machines and two fulltime staff assigned to sweeping activities. Contract sweeping services are used for peak seasonal sweeping operations during fall leaf season and periodically for spring clean-up.
Limited Public Notification
In order to make the most efficient use of available resources and equipment, timed or daily scheduling of residential routes is currently not practicable. We have heard concerns from some residents that streets are being swept when cars are parked at the curb. Despite these obstacles, the City is able to meet its primary objectives of reducing air and water pollutants. Although it is a goal to also have the streets looking clean, the expense of notification – signage, mailings, and/or barricading – is cost prohibitive.
The following factors frequently influence our street cleaning schedule:
- Weather: rainfall, wind, snow and ice
- Equipment breakdowns
- Utility work by other agencies
- Private construction activities in the public rights of way
- Other street maintenance and road repair activities
- How dirty the street is - extra debris in the street delays a crew
- Overhanging tree limbs that prohibit crews from getting to the curb to clean a street; sometimes overhanging tree limbs prohibit our equipment from accessing a street
- Heavy leaf fall
How You Can Help Street Sweepers
Keeping the roadway in front of your house free of large objects and obstructions is the best way to assist street sweeping crews' clean-up efforts.
- Follow rules for placement of garbage and recycling containers. The municipal code does not allow garbage and recycling containers to be placed in the street before 4:00 p.m. of the day before your scheduled collection, or left out later than 8:00 p.m. the day following collection.
- Remove large sticks and branches from the roadway in front of your house. They will clog and jam the sweeper's operating system.
- Remove grass or weeds that grow in the gutter. This will reduce debris in front of your house and will improve water runoff during rainstorms.
- Report abandoned autos to the City's Code Enforcement.
- Properly trim your street trees so the sweeper can clean next to the curb. If you need to prune trees in the right of way, contact Forestry Services.
- Organize or participate in neighborhood clean ups.
- If you own a pet, please obey the City's "scoop law."
- Tell your children the benefits of a clean neighborhood and encourage them to dispose of litter properly.
- Drivers and cyclists should keep a safe distance between themselves and the sweeper at all times. Try to avoid maneuvering around sweeper trucks; move off to the side of the road until you are sure it is safe to continue.
- Always keep children and pets a safe distance from the sweepers. Do not ride, run or play near the trucks.