Seattle Dept. of Transportation: Plowing While It's Still Snowing

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Buses stuck on Columbia between 2nd and 3rd.

Don't envy the folks at the Seattle Department of Transportation who are responsible for clearing the roads with just 24 sand/plow trucks--a justifiably modest number. (Seattle gets snowstorms about as often as McLovin' gets laid.) "We usually look and see what part of the city is hit more than

another," and focus resources there, says SDOT spokesperson Marybeth Turner. "But at this point, we're doing the whole city, all the major arterials." A map of cleared and scheduled-to-be-cleared arterials can be found here.

West Seattle, which has the highest elevation in the city, was the area hardest hit by last weekend's storm, and many of its residents felt the city was slow to clear their roads. Horace Mitchell runs the West Seattle road maintenance facility. "We've got a lot of hills out here," he explains. "I took in about 80-100 complaints on Monday and Tuesday, the majority for hills that even a good plow driver wouldn't go down." As examples, he cites Charlestown, Genessee, and Avalon streets. He says he hasn't gotten any complaints about the hills "because it's still snowing. As soon as it stops, I'll be hearing about it."

The West Seattle bridge is the biggest issue. SDOT has a plow dedicated solely to the bridge, which has been closed and replowed several times today. "This morning was terrible at Orchard and Delridge," says Mitchell. "We had 150 cars stuck, and we went up in front of them and cleared out so they were able to move. But they didn't get very far because a bus jackknifed Delridge on the ramp, so we had to go sand the ramp."

To help keep up, Mitchell says he's monitoring radio communications and poaching other area's crews whenever he gets the chance. "I heard on the radio that some guys were coming from the North, running the Alaskan Way Viaduct. I asked

them to take the West Seattle Exit and the High Rise in tandem. If they come

out here, they're gonna plow some streets before they leave."

 
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