Since before snow began falling, City of Bellingham Street crews have been busy preparing streets for winter conditions and are now working in shifts around the clock.
“Prior to Sunday, we put down 4,000 gallons of brine," said Dan Larsen, Bellingham Public Works Street Division supervisor. Since then, however, Larsen said snow turned to water and pushed the brine off the road before the temperature plunged mid-afternoon Sunday, turning streets icy.
Public Works also put down about 200 yards of sand and salt since Sunday.
Crews worked from Sunday afternoon through the night, and as of Monday there are six trucks out on City streets.
“All of our snow routes have been hit three-to-four times since Sunday," said Larsen.
The six snow routes – which cover much of the City's 300 lane miles of streets – are arterials and some secondary arterials, highly traveled routes and those essential for Police, Fire and Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA.) That means that secondary and some residential streets will be untreated and likely slippery.
Public Works supervisors continue to monitor conditions and direct crews per standard protocols:
- As possible, de-icing solution is applied to key streets in advance of snow and ice;
- A sand/salt mixture is applied when streets are icy or covered with light snow;
- Because that sand needs to be cleaned up to keep it out of the storm drain system, as well as and our streams and Bay, crews work to find the right balance, applying enough sand for traction, but not too much;
- For downtown and the Lake Whatcom watershed only salt is used;
- The route for sanding is found here https://www.cob.org/services/transportation/Pages/snow-and-ice-removal.aspx;
- Plowing typically starts when four inches of snow has accumulated and is forecast to continue;
- Four-lane roads initially have only one lane plowed in each direction with additional lanes open as time and conditions permit; and
- Access to side streets are cleared only after the priority routes are completely cleared.
It's best to stay home if possible; if you cannot, WTA routes cover nearly all of Bellingham (www.ridewta.com or 360/676-7433.) And if you must drive:
- Prepare yourself and your car, including clearing your windshield and all vehicle windows;
- Drive only when you really need to, and allow extra time and stopping distance;
- Drive for the conditions, with slower acceleration and at lower speeds; and
- Use your headlights (to help other drivers see you).
For more information: https://www.cob.org/services/transportation/Pages/snow-and-ice-removal.aspx and https://www.cob.org/Documents/pw/street/AllRoutes2018.pdf to see the City's sanding route map. Or check Washington State Department of Transportation's winter driving page.