I guess there's a lot of downside or potential downside. Another question is what is the risk of any of this downside coming to bear upon me? Despite the potential downside of plowing a public street, I went ahead and did it. Everyone I saw seemed encouraging. They either waved or thanked me. I saw one lady later who was removing the snow from her downspout drainage pipe at the road. So I guess I caused her a little grief. And I piled some snow in front of driveways. And I suppose I was a little noisy.
It ended up being a much bigger job than I expected. It was a quarter of a mile of road and probably 3 car widths wide. I spent 3 hours on it. Much more than I intended.
What may be somewhat unique to this situation is that the City of Columbus does not plow, salt or do a **** thing to secondary streets - at least, not in my neighborhood. Like I originally stated, they've plowed my street 3 times total in 13 years. And that's not 3 times a year for 13 years. That's once (1) every four (4) years. So, in essence, we get NO (ZERO, 0) snow removal and people just drive over the snow until it becomes hard packed ice.
This particular stretch of road is practically a quiet cul-de-sac so traffic is a very minor concern as well.
I'm not too concerned about potential liability because anyone who wanted to go after me would have to show that I somehow made the situation worse than it was. I think it is pretty hard to make it worse than it was. They would have to show what the condition of the road was before I did anything and then what it was after I finished - not too mention any intervening factors like additional snow/ice that occurred afterwards. Generally, ice and snow are considered obvious hazards which would require someone to show that they weren't negligent in their own injury. In other words, you saw the ice/snow, yet proceeded over it and you fell or had an accident. You assumed the risk in doing so. I know that in our day and age, no one can point the finger at themselves and accept the blame for something they did wrong. Everyone always wants to sue/blame someone else for their own screw-ups. And sure someone can sue me for just about anything they can imagine in their minds; however, they still have to find a lawyer who will take the case and a judge/jury who will agree with them. Although, I don't want to be in such a situation, is a jury really going to make me liable for helping the community?
I did find the following case which deals with private (not public) property and states that liability can result if, by negligent removal of the snow, a more hazardous condition was somehow created. The court didn't specifically state what the evidence was showing that a more treacherous condition resulted from the snow removal. I would be curious to find out what the facts were in that case.
Maybe I won't be so eager to plow the public street in the future but when I finish my drive in 20 minutes, I may get that itch to continue.