Winter Storm Watch - Road Prioritization

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Winter Storm Watch, effective from noon Friday, February 8 through Saturday, February 9 for much of the Puget Sound region, including King County. Please see some great information here on how to prepare yourself and your home. 


As we prepare for more snow, just a few reminders about road conditions.  This week, we had multiple calls and requests for various neighborhood streets to be plowed and treated.  


Limited Snow and Ice Equipment

Just as a reminder, since snowy conditions are rare in the Northwest, it is not sensible for the City of Kenmore to make large capital investments in snow and ice equipment for snow we may or may not get.  For that reason, our fleet and resources are limited. Between city-owned resources and our interlocal contract with Northshore Utility District, we have four trucks. Crews are also out deploying sand by hand.  We have two more plow/sander trucks coming soon, which will help. For this unusual weather event, keep in mind the entire region is utilizing the same resources and treatment materials. Many of you have asked for more sand/salt out on roads.  Across the region, materials are in short supply. When supply is low and shipments get delayed, we have to make adjustments. Sometimes even the local stores where we get bulk sand are closed.


Why Hasn’t My Street Been Treated?

Routes are prioritized based on emergency response, traffic volume, transit and school bus routes, terrain, and historical problem areas.  We know it may seem that some your calls or requests are ignored. Even if all neighbors on a small side street call in, we cannot change the priority list and “move you up” on the list. We know that some cul-de-sacs/side streets have very steep and at times unpassable roads, but that doesn’t change the priority list, if there are only a few houses there.  See the prioritization map here.


We also received calls/requests asking for roads to be treated because an elderly person lives on the street, there is a resident who “really needs to get out and do something”, etc. To be blunt, the same can be said for almost all streets.  We know it is frustrating to feel trapped in your neighborhood, so please prepare your homes in advance and work with neighbors to help each other out.


Why Can’t Crews Get to More Roads?

Limited equipment and work hours are factors. As good as they are, the safety of our staff cannot be compromised. In the beginning, it’s difficult for their trucks to navigate some areas safely. They are working long hours, but do need to sleep. Some high priority roads needed multiple treatments, and during serious weather events, things like traffic collisions, fuel spills, and downed trees divert workers or equipment.  For this event, we found it difficult to even reach all Priority 1 roads, and Priority 2 and 3 roads were not treated. Public Works is responsible for approximately 145 lane miles, which does include SR522 (WSDOT does not treat SR522 in Kenmore).  


We realize this is a bit of doom and gloom messaging, especially as we prepare for more snow projected to arrive Friday night.  Just know we are doing the best we can and Public Works is planning for this weekend.  After every event, we de-brief, discuss lessons learned, and make changes to procedures if needed.  


Last updated: Thu, 02/07/2019 - 1:17pm