Seattle, WA

Don’t Expect a Robust Snow Removal Response in Seattle

Maria Shimizu Christensen

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Snow in SeattlePhoto by Maria Shimizu Christensen

Roads are slowly being plowed and salted this morning, as Seattle enters its third day of snow on the ground, but don’t expect a rapid response to icy roads. And, if you live on a side road, don’t expect it to receive any kind of service.

The city of Seattle keeps an online storm response map updated with the latest status on city roads. Different colors denote closed roads, roads serviced in the last hour, the last one to three hours, or more than three hours. Roads in yellow are in the service plans but have not been cleared.

Seattle has always prioritized clearing busy streets and important arterials, but this event is a particular challenge. In a KIRO article, Ethan Bergerson, a spokesperson for Seattle DOT, noted that, “Because a lot of staff were out of town or gearing up for the holidays and so that made it more of a challenging situation for us to get staffed up to respond to the snow.”

Sidewalks are included in the technical plans for servicing, but even in non-pandemic years few, if any, are ever addressed. If you zoom in on the response map you can see what are considered high-priority and medium-priority sidewalks outlined by colored dots. All sidewalks in the city remain in the “not inspected” status.

City regulations actually state that residents and business owners are the responsible parties if their property abuts a sidewalk, and they’re the ones who should clear the snow and/or ice from sidewalks.

More snow is expected on Thursday.

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Author of a Seattle handbook for newcomers, Maria provides news, guides, and tidbits for city dwellers, visitors, and day trippers

Seattle, WA
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