FAIL: Frozen Edition

Seattle Times: Seattle refuses to use salt; roads “snow packed” by design […] To hear the city’s spin, Seattle’s road crews are making “great progress” in clearing the ice-caked streets.

But it turns out “plowed streets” in Seattle actually means “snow-packed,” as in there’s snow and ice left on major arterials by design.

“We’re trying to create a hard-packed surface,” said Alex Wiggins, chief of staff for the Seattle Department of Transportation. “It doesn’t look like anything you’d find in Chicago or New York.”

The city’s approach means crews clear the roads enough for all-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles, or those with front-wheel drive cars as long as they are using chains, Wiggins said.

The icy streets are the result of Seattle’s refusal to use salt, an effective ice-buster used by the state Department of Transportation and cities accustomed to dealing with heavy winter snows.

“If we were using salt, you’d see patches of bare road because salt is very effective,” Wiggins said. “We decided not to utilize salt because it’s not a healthy addition to Puget Sound.”

Did someone tell them that the city’s busses can’t get up the hills? That Denny Way [shown at right] is still shut down? That the cop cars are rear wheel drive (and can’t make hills with chains?)

Full of loss.

9 thoughts on “FAIL: Frozen Edition”

  1. And then in Bellevue (and maybe Seattle, too, I just haven’t gotten over there), where they have plowed the streets they have pushed the snow up so deep on the sidewalks that you can’t walk on them, so the only way to get around as a pedestrian is to walk in the streets. That’s fine around where I live (NE Bellevue near Crossroads) but it doesn’t work downtown Bellevue where the streets are narrower and there’s more automobile traffic.

    We can’t get out of our neighborhood (they haven’t plowed or even come by and spread any sand) and we can’t get the fuel-efficient-but-worthless-in-the-snow tires of our Prius to climb the 15% grade. So we have been walking a lot and taking the bus.

  2. That’s what I did last Thursday and I’ve got a Wrangler… Friday morning I went to Les Schwab to get chains and called it happy, but I have to say that it was something I NEVER thought would happen

  3. How often does it snow in Seattle like that Randy? Everyone in Seattle can get chains and get over it. Salt is corrosive. It ruins the water table, pollutes everything it sits on, and I hope you all love your rust-free rear wheel drive vehicles because that salt will eat them away.

    By the way, the people that live around Denny Way should be used to walking.

  4. It doesn’t matter how often and it doesn’t matter that it’s corrosive. The fact is that more than half of Seattle is at a standstill. Ambulances and cop cars can’t get around the city. There hasn’t been a day warm enough to melt everything, as it usually happens in the city, so this has been going on for days. The 10 and 11 still aren’t running – people are still stranded throughout the city.

    As for what it doest to cars and the environment, my point is that the state and federal snow clearing service is using it on all of their roads. That includes 405, 90, 520, 5, and 99. That means salt is out there and on the roads that people are driving on most often.

    Seattle has no excuse to first deal with the snow in this manner and second to continue down this course when it’s obviously not working.

  5. There are plenty of cities that get significant amounts of snowfall each year and use the no-salt snow pack and plough policy on their roads…example: St Paul, here in MN. Somehow the people of St Paul continue life normally with snow on the ground. Basic services continue to operate normally. They don’t close down roads. They trudge on.

    Stop whining, seriously.

  6. And how many hills like Denny and Olive and University does St Paul have? About the same number as Buffalo, New York, Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Stamford have, no doubt: none.

    That’s the difference here. In plenty of other cities, they get more snowfall but:

    a) they plow down to the pavement or

    b) they plow lightly and rely on snow pack

    c) either way, they don’t have hills like Seattle.

    Tell me what San Francisco does for snow, and get back to me.

    As for whining, uh, I think I own the domain – I’ll post about whatever I want, thanks.

  7. I’m sure that for someone that was born and raised in the east, the piddly hills that Seattle sports are pretty impressive. When the mid-southern California coast gets snow dumped on them and a whiny little nobody bitches about how much Seattle sucks because it’s not dealing with a once-in-a-fifty-year problem perfectly, I’ll report back to you.

    In the meantime, I suggest getting out yer walkin’ galoshes.

  8. PS: Because posting anything on your blog is a chore…

    There are plenty of significant hills in St Paul, becuase much of the city was built on a steep cliff embankment that looks over the Mississippi river.

    Seattle isn’t special in this manner. Seattle’s hills are nothing like San Fransisco’s, and I won’t even pretend to compare St Paul’s to SF’s.

    Duluth has hills that rival SF’s, and they deal with far more snow than many places here in the US. They seem to get by just fine too. I wouldn’t compare Seattle’s hills to Duluth’s either.

  9. You’re missing the point.

    Seattle – not the city itself, but the department of transportation – has a solution to the problem and they aren’t fixing it – that’s why they suck. Plain and simple.

    As for SF, the hills that I’m talking about in Seattle are every bit as steep as SF, but with less curves. And guess what? When it does snow in SanFran, they use SALT to clear the roads.

    Sorry that you’re missing the point, but this has turned boring. Every time I bring up a valid counterpoint to one of your points you ignore it and move onto a “stop whining” bit… it’s about as productive as trying to have a meaningful conversation with someone on IM when it’s actually someone else spoofing their identify. *shrug*

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