Before there's snow on the ground, it's time to start thinking winter safety. When it comes to driving, that means be prepared and slow down. The City of Bellingham (COB) Public Works Department, with responsibility for city street maintenance, has been preparing for snow and ice and monitors winter weather conditions.
In preparation for wintry street conditions, COB Public Works:
- Prepares four trucks with plow attachments;
- 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;
- Essentially for downtown and the Lake Whatcom watershed only salt is used;
- The route for sanding is found here: https://www.cob.org/Documents/pw/street/AllRoutes2018.pdf;
- 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;
- Access to side streets are cleared only after the priority routes are completely cleared.
It is important for City residents to know:
- It is your responsibility to clear sidewalks abutting your property (COB does not provide snow and ice control for sidewalks);
- Stay home if you don't need to be out. It's safer with fewer people on the streets, especially for those not comfortable in snow and ice;
- If you're not able to stay home, consider taking the bus. For Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) routes and schedules, visit http://www.ridewta.com or call (360) 676-7433.
Tips for drivers facing wintry street conditions:
- Prepare yourself and your car for winter driving;
- Clear your windshield and all vehicle windows before driving;
- Drive only when you really need to, and allow extra time;
- Drive for the conditions, i.e. with slower acceleration and at lower speeds;
- Use your headlights (even if you can see well already, lights help other drivers see you);
- Leave extra stopping distance between your vehicle and the one in front of 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 - http://www.wsdot.com/winter/ - or winter driving guide is available: http://www.wsdot.com/winter/files/WinterDrivingBrochure.pdf