Each year, hundreds of Islanders working for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure undertake the important task of preparing for snowfall and maintaining our roads during PEI’s increasingly unpredictable winter months. Their goal is to keep people and goods moving as safely as possible.
Our provincial winter fleet has 200 large pieces of machinery and vehicles and over 100,000 tonnes of sand and salt stored across the island. Everything is ready to go when snow starts sticking.
These are the most common questions about winter road plowing and maintenance. We ask that you please keep road safety in mind when travelling around plows and other drivers.
How many kilometers of PEI roads receive winter maintenance?
- We service 4,450 kilometers of roads and highways during the winter on Prince Edward Island.
Why do some roads get plowed before others?
- Plow routes and resources are typically set up so higher traffic roads are plowed first.
- For example, the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1) and Veteran’s Memorial Highway (Route 2) receive maintenance 24 hours a day during weather events due to higher traffic volumes.
How do you decide when to send plows out on the road?
- Our staff begin monitoring the weather and road conditions 24/7 in November and plows and other machines are sent out based on need.
- There are different levels of service for higher volume roads versus lower volume roads.
How long do most plow routes take?
- This really depends on the road and snowfall accumulation.
- The average plow route takes about three to four hours.
What should I do when there are plows on the road?
- Most importantly, give them space to do their jobs.
- Slow down, keep your distance, and do not pass.
Why do plows sometimes get pulled off the roads?
- It comes down to visibility. If it’s not safe for our equipment operators to be out on the roads because the visibility is so poor, we’ll call them off the roads until it’s safe to resume operations.
- Only in the case of an emergency do we send equipment out in extreme weather.
How come some roads get salted while others receive sand?
- We use salt for snow and ice control and use sand to help to improve traction of vehicles.
- Salt is applied to our highways with the most traffic (Trans-Canada and Veteran’s Memorial) to help control ice. All other roads receive sand for traction.
Why not salt all the roads?
- Excess salt is not recommended.
- It can get into our waterways, causing environmental sensitivities.
- Salt accelerates the degradation of asphalt, affecting the condition of our roads.
Why aren’t all roads cleared in the winter?
- Seasonal roads, like clay roads or some gravel roads, aren’t built up to a standard that can support the heavy equipment needed for winter maintenance.
I live on a private road. Will my road get plowed?
- Government equipment is not permitted to carry out operations on private land.
- Landowners are responsible for maintenance on their private roads, year-round.
- Residents living on private roads can contact a local contractor who may be able to provide snow removal services.
Does the department plow the roads in Charlottetown and Summerside?
- The department has arrangements to plow most municipal roads. Charlottetown and Summerside municipalities look after their own winter maintenance.
How do I report that my road needs plowing?
- We encourage Islanders to call 511, visit the website or download the app instead of calling local dispatch.
- 511 road conditions are frequently updated.
How can I find out what road conditions are like on PEI?
- Visit or call 511 or download the app.
- The web page has current information about conditions and road camera images showing the road conditions from six stations across PEI.
- You can also get a text report of the road conditions on main highways that’s easy to view on your cell phone.
- The department is responsible for plowing and maintaining about 4,450 kilometers of roads and highways.
- Most municipalities, excluding Charlottetown and Summerside, are served by the department.
- There are over 200 pieces of equipment across the Island including plows, graders, loaders, and snow blowers.
- There is capacity to store 125,000 tonnes of sand and 11,500 tonnes of salt across the province each winter.
- Salt is used to combat ice and sand is used to improve traction.
- Hundreds of department and contracted staff across the province are ready to keep our roads clear to help you get where you need to be.