Seattle's no-salt policy for snowy roads has even plows spinning wheels
Seattle's no-salt policy for dealing with adverse snowy driving conditions should have been reconsidered given the unusual nature of this week's storms. Usually, such a policy, intended to protect Puget Sound is reasonable, because the snow falls and melts quickly
DIRE weather cries out for a dramatic response. If you've been attempting to drive anything other than an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle, you know Seattle has taken a laid-back approach to clearing streets.
Days of freezing cold and heavy snow produced a list of major streets and arterials that may or may not have been plowed, while the city purposely avoided a useful ingredient, salt. In Seattle, a plowed street means snow-packed, often sand sprinkled atop snow and ice.
The Seattle Department of Transportation eschews salt because it is not good for Puget Sound. Most snow days, most years, that makes sense — snow falls, lasts a day or two, and melts. The inconvenience to drivers, retailers and others is minimal. But Earth to city leaders: This is not a normal year. The city should have made an exception to its policy. Salt is an effective ice-buster.
For days, downtown streets have been filled with hard-packed and chunky snow. The net effect is a surface reminiscent of the wagon days. Giddy up. At the height of the Christmas shopping season, parts of Fourth Avenue downtown were a mess. Same goes for Fifth Avenue and many major streets heading into and out of the retail core.
The state Department of Transportation uses salt mixed with other de-icing ingredients.
City policy should have been revised as the nasty weather persisted. Seattle has 27 snow plows but the no-salt diet makes it seem like they are literally and figuratively spinning their wheels.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.