Snow Removal Frequently Asked Questions

Throughout the year, the County of San Bernardino Transportation Department maintenance staffs prepare for snow removal by obtaining special training, checking equipment, performing dry runs on established snowplow routes and updating the listing of private individuals and/or companies with heavy equipment that can be contracted with should they be needed to assist with snow removal.

In a normal winter season, the County plows over 820 lane miles. As the elevation of the snow falls decreases, the number of miles the County plows significantly increases. The County can typically plow  410 miles of roadways.   Special District plows 86miles and Caltrans plows 173miles.

Crews begin plowing the roads when there is 2 inches or more of snow on the primary roads.

Primary roads such as Lake Gregory Road, Grass Valley Road, Live Oak Road, Green Valley Lake Road, Maple Lane and Valley of the Falls are plowed first, followed by secondary roads, which connect the local roads to the primary roads, then lastly the local roads, such as the ones you may live on. This is done in this order to maximize access for emergency vehicles. Also, if there are vehicles parked in the road right-of-way blocking the snowplow routes, the operators have to wait until the vehicles are removed, delaying snow removal operations. Other obstacles can also block the roads such as downed trees and power lines. The amount of snowfall will have different effects on the snow removal process.

During heavy snow falls the primary roads may get over the 2” threshold stated above before we are able to plow the local roads. The plows must go back to the primary roads first before continuing with the local roads. Also, other obstacles such as vehicles that may be blocking the narrower local roads take time to be removed so the plows can gain access to the roads.

We put cinders down on primary roads when the roads are experiencing icy
conditions. They are also put down in school areas and where the California Highway Patrol advises us to. We do not cinder all County maintained roads.

Our snow removal equipment operators have maps of the assigned snow removal
routes. At the end of their shift they go over their logs with their shift supervisor. We are also working on GPS based systems on our snow removal equipment to provide real time monitoring of their progress.

County crews are not authorized to move the vehicles and, therefore, must contact the California Highway Patrol to have them moved. From the moment the vehicle is ‘tagged’ to the actual removal may take up to 4 to 6 hours per vehicle. During heavy snow falls towing may not be possible.

The County has a replacement program to keep up with modernization of our fleet
with newer equipment. The County also has maintenance staff in the mountain yards to repair the equipment without taking it out of the mountains. If equipment does break down we have stand by equipment and equipment that can be brought in from other areas. Rental equipment can also be requested from contractors in the area.

We are responsible for clearing County maintained roads. Caltrans plows the State Highways while Special Districts plows areas under current contracts with community service areas. The City of Big Bear Lake and private contractors also clear their own roads.

Call 911 or the local police immediately. They are equipped with special vehicles for traveling over snowy terrain in emergency situations. The Department of Public Works can provide assistance to emergency response agencies.

We are sorry that this occasionally happens, but in making as many roads passable to the community as a whole and as quickly as possible, there is no way to avoid it. The County snow plow operators push the snow off the roadway in smooth, continuous passes from the center of the road to the edge of the right-of-way and the snow ends up on the road shoulders, sometimes blocking driveways.
Snow plows will make two passes on each side of the road, please wait until the second pass before clearing your driveway. To avoid double work, please try to shovel snow from your driveway after a plow has gone by. Shovel the snow to the right of your driveway as you face the road. Please remember as the snow continues to fall and shortly afterwards, the snow plows will continue to make passes down your road to move the newly fallen snow to the edge of the road, and permit two way travel on your road.

Since our main goal is to open the primary roads as soon as possible, lifting of blades at each driveway would slow down the snow removal operation significantly and leave snow in the road that may in turn be a hazard.

We do make efforts to push snow into such areas when possible. But as stated above, our goal is to clear the roads as quickly as possible and the most efficient way to do so is to move the snow from the center of the roadway to the side. Apart from that would slow down the snow removal operations significantly. The size of a berm is determined by the amount of snowfall and accumulation on the roads.

If your vehicle was damaged during snow removal or cinder spreading operations, please obtain as much of the following information as possible to assist County claim representatives with your claim:

  • Note down the location (If known), date of and time of the incident and the date of when the damage was discovered.
  • Take photos of the damages caused by the snow and/or snowplow.  Please take pictures from all 4 corners of your vehicle.
  • Please take picture of your vehicle’s odometer.
  • Please include the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of your vehicle, which can be located on the driver’s side dashboard where the dashboard meets the windshield.
  • If you are able to, please provide a description of the vehicle (blower, blade, bucket, etc.), the color of the vehicle, any identifying vehicle number, and/or any emblems or insignias, name of the snowplow or logo.
  • We recommend you call your insurance carrier and file a claim with them.
  • You and your insurance carrier have up to 6 months from date of incident or date of discovery to file a claim with the County.
  • If you have paid for any damage repair, please keep all receipts

You can file a claim with the County using the claim form found of the Risk Management website: County of San Bernardino Department of Risk Management – Claim Against the County.  If you are unable to download or print the claim from, please contact Risk Management at (909) 386-8655, and a claim form can be mailed to you.

Your claim and all the supporting documentation noted can be mailed to Risk Management, 222 West Hospitality Lane, Third Floor, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0016; submitted by fax to Risk Management by fax at (909) 382-3211; or submitted by email to:

Risk Management will make a determination on your claim within 45 days.

The assigned County claim representative will reach out to you and provide you with further information and answer your questions regarding to your claim status.

For any questions or further information, please contact San Bernardino County Risk Management at (909) 386-8655