The Alberta Snowplows shows the locations of the snowplows and other maintenance vehicles contracted by Alberta Transportation for the winter maintenance of the provincial roads. Weather conditions and traffic camera images are also available as provided by third party contributors.
Vehicles and operation
The snowplow routes are not shown on the map because Alberta’s snowplow operators do not follow set routes when maintaining provincial highways. Instead, they use their expertise and guidelines set by Alberta Transportation to clear highways and keep Albertans on the move.
The arrow symbols representing the vehicle locations are pointed in the direction of travel. In general the position of the vehicles gets updated every 20-30 seconds but there may be delays due to various factors including limited cellular network coverage and lost GPS signal
Winter highway maintenance
Highway maintenance contractors are the private companies that maintain Alberta’s 32,000 kilometres of highways. Government maintenance contract inspectors monitor and review the contractor’s work to ensure it meets provincial standards. Guidelines for maintenance are based on the average traffic volume for each highway. For example, snowplow operators begin clearing Alberta’s busiest highways, like Highway 2, no more than 2 hours following winter storms. Snowplow operators have a range of 4 to 16 hours to begin clearing highways with less traffic volume, depending on how many vehicles travel each specific road. More than 600 snowplows are dedicated to provincial highways. Snowplows operate 24-hours a day, depending on when snowfall accumulates on provincial highways.
Using salt and sand
The road traction product a snowplow operator uses depends on the temperature. Below -10 Celsius, salt is not very effective. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are used in some colder parts of the province as de-icing agents and to freeze-proof sand piles. Sand is primarily used for traction, but in high winds it blows off the road.
As a driver, you can take the following actions to stay safe on the road:
Road gradient (slope)
Gradient is a measurement of steepness on highway. It is the rate for one metre rise or fall in elevation with respect to 100 metre horizontal distance, usually expressed as a percentage. Typical highway gradients range from 0 to 3%. Gradients above 7% are considered as steep. Alberta Transportation doesn’t have gradient data for highways within the National Parks (e.g. Banff, Jasper, etc.) as they are managed by the Federal Government (Parks Canada).
Download Highway gradient map