2019 Alley Plowing Study

The City Council requested that Public Works conduct a study to better understand current alley plowing situations and examine potential options for city coordinated alley plowing. Saint Paul Public Works partnered with the University of Minnesota to study the costs and feasibility. More than 7,800 city residents participated in a survey, sharing their current arrangements, perceptions and expectations of alley plowing in Saint Paul.

Historically, the City of Saint Paul has never plowed alleys in winter. Residents must determine how and when to plow their alleys. Many residents in Saint Paul work with their neighbors to hire private contractors to plow their alleys.

Study Documents

Alley FAQs

What is an alley?

Both state law and city ordinance define an alley as a "Public way that does not exceed 30-feet in width".

In Saint Paul, alleys are designated as either paved, oiled, unimproved assessed (alleys with a gravel surface that Public Works maintains), or unimproved not assessed (alleys can be gravel, dirt, or ungraded that Public Works does not maintain).

Please note:  An asphalt-surfaced or oiled alley may be considered unimproved if the work was done in the past by a private contractor/property owner and Public Works has never maintained the alley.

Who is responsible for clearing the alley of snow and leaves?

Historically, the City of Saint Paul has never plowed alleys. Keeping alleys clear of ice, snow and leaves is the responsibility of the abutting property owners, acting as a collective.  Many alley neighbors pool their resources and hire private contractors to remove snow. Snow may not be pushed into the streets.

I would like a street light in the alley, who do I contact?

Alley lights are installed and maintained by Xcel Energy at the request of adjacent property owners.  It is up to the property owners to arrange for alley lights directly with Xcel Energy and to pay the cost of installation, maintenance, and operation of the alley lights.

For alley light problems or installation:

  • Call Xcel Energy at 800-960-6235
  • Email Xcel Energy, or
  • Go to the Xcel Energy website

Will the city install a "No Dumping" or "Slow, Children at Play" sign in an alley?

No. The city does not install those signs in alleys.

What is the speed limit for alleys?

Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit for alleys is 10-miles-per-hour.

Can I park in an alley?

Parking in alleys is permitted only if the parked vehicle does not block access for other vehicles using the alley or attempting to enter/exit the alley from adjacent private property or public right-of-way.

Someone is blocking my alley, who do I call?

Call the Saint Paul Police's non-emergency number at 651-291-1111.

Who is responsible for cleaning up the trash in an alley?

Saint Paul Public Works Street and Bridge Maintenance Division will respond to this type of request. Contact 651-266-9700.

Is it required to have address numbers on the alley side of my property?  If so, why?

Yes.  Property owners are required to clearly display their address numbers on the alley side of their property to assist emergency vehicles, as well as garbage and recycling vehicles using the alleys.

I'm interested in having my alley improved.  Where do I start?

Alley improvements are 100% assessed to the property owners.  An improvement requires submission of a petition to the City Council requesting a public hearing to consider approval of the work and assessments.

Interested property owners can begin the process by requesting a petition form from the Public Works Street Design and Construction Division at 651-266-6080.