Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hey, WSDOT, You put a snow bank in my driveway!

From Jamie Holter in the Seattle Communications office...

We’re being inundated with calls this morning about personal driveways. Folks who live on our state highways are calling and asking us to clear the berm we’ve created as we cleared snow from the road.

In the last two hours, I personally have taken calls from a mom with a new baby and three small kids in Carnation and an elderly couple for whom the need for immediate medical attention is a real possibility.

I called out to our maintenance folks and they are just swamped keeping the roads clear right now. This is another serious snow and they tell me they have a system for keeping the roads clear of snow and ice. If they break off to do a driveway out in Carnation or Aberdeen, the whole system could be thrown into disarray. (Not to mention that every person in Aberdeen or Carnation would want their driveway cleared.)

We know it’s hard especially after seven straight days of this stuff. You might want to consider calling a neighbor and asking them to help you out. Another idea - if you are reading this and you are healthy and looking for something to do, you might want to go knock on a neighbor’s door and offer your services. (I know I shove my teenager out the door to check on our neighbors at times like this.) It is the holidays, after all, and a good deed would certainly be appreciated.

The good news: I just took a tour of the traffic cameras and it appears the snow is turning to rain in the Northwest. YEAH!!!! So perhaps an end is in sight.

If you need assistance, you can call 211. It's the Washington information network and an operator can connect you with health and human service providers: .


John Eddy said...

Growing up in New England, I learned two things:

1) Bad backs are hereditary. When your dad has one, you get to shovel, thus getting a bad back.

2) Dread the plows.

It's something we know. Plows clear the roads. We clear the driveway. It's a fact of life. If you have a long driveway, or money, you hire a private plow company to clear your drive.

martinboards said...

no way! i hope the snow quickly turns back in snow. you must not be a snowboarder :) My Mt Spokane Snowboard Team relies on snowfall and IMO the more the better

Carl said...

Plowing to the side is OK for the highways and byways, we understand and accomodate. However, the some towns and cities have stopped plowing to the center which destroys city drainage, city parking and pedestrian and shopper traffic.
I've been impressed with the road job around the Tri-Cities Thanks,

Benji said...

I understand that WSDOT must keep the highways clear, but what about neighborhoods. I live in a subdivision that had been getting along just fine with the snow on the roads and people shoveling their driveways and sidewalks. But then Monday morning the plows came through. The roads were just as difficult to drive on as before but now there was a 2 1/2 foot berm of snow trapping everyone in their houses. It took me 20 minutes to dig out the neighbor lady who high centered herself, anouther 20 minutes to clear a path out of the driveway and another 20 minutes to dig out my truck which had been parked on the street. I can see no real positives that came from the plow coming through and yet saw every neighbor take at least 20 minutes of shoveling before they coudl even leave their house. What a waste!

Anonymous said...

This has been a difficult event in Western Washington and it seems the public works have made a tremendous effort. Many of the complainers on the street were less prepared than the counties and municipalities they seemed to think should be making it possible for them to drive without traction devices. Everyone should spend some time shoveling and now preparing for the melt of 2008!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad the roads are plowed. We live on a country road and it didn't get plowed. Yesterday we had a neighborhood block party and everyone brought their tractors in order to push the snow/slush off the road. For those of you complaining about having to dig out your drive way, be happy. It's a lot harder pushing people who are stuck in the road or ditch.

Anonymous said...

AS it take's myself at least 1 hr. to clear my driveway and enjoy the snow & exersice , AND go out of the way to clear US HWY 101 in front of our driveway , these Guy's can still blast those snow cookie's all the way down my drive!!

patrickg16inf said...

Does anyone know the state of washington laws on clearing sidewalks on your property. In CO and many other states you are required to clear the sidewalk the day the snow falls. I live in an apartment complex that has done nothing (salt, shoveling, road clearance etc.) to fight the snow and now it looks like a deserted car lot with people falling all over the place. Just wondering what if any laws are being neglected?

Scott said...

You have to be kidding me...the comment:

"Another idea - if you are reading this and you are healthy and looking for something to do, you might want to go knock on a neighbor’s door and offer your services."

To say that snow removal has been less than satisfactory would be an understatement to say the least. This is certainly not a condemnation of the drivers themselves but clearly the DOT leadership isn’t prepared to lead when required.

The fact that the National Weather Service predicted the storms and the county leaders failed to manage it is alarming. Understanding the challenges from the lack of equipment and limited personnel, the past week presented an emergency throughout the region. I would hate to imagine what the response would be given an unpredicted natural or manmade emergency.

The county and DOT management failed miserably, the fact that even into today (27 December) the secondary roads are worse than they have been throughout the last week and many are impassable leave our families, and property at risk.

It’s time for leaders to step-up, take responsibility, and LEAD. We don’t need more committees, studies, or debates about the effects of road salt – we need people that can see the big picture in a crisis, are committed to finding workable solutions, and can take charge to meet their responsibilities to the communities they serve. If the past week is any indication, the current county government is either unable, or unwilling.

LaSalle City Engineer said...

I work for a city in Illinois and have been fielding these types of calls for about 15 years. While we realize that having to shovel this berm is frustrating, what is the alternative? As you point out, government barely has the staff to keep the roads clear.

What I try to explain to callers is that if the city had to hire the staff to clear out everyone's drive after each snow, we would have to hire, for our city, about 300 to 400 part-time employees who would be willing to only come out after a snow and work one day. (And if anything other than shovels were used, we would be replacing driveways all summer long after being blamed for each crack in everyone's drive) The cost to manage that type of operation and the personnel and insurance costs would then be passed onto the homeowner anyway through taxes. In the end, it is cheaper for them to just pay someone to do it or as you suggested have a neighbor help.

I also explain they always have the option of calling their alderman to ask that the city implement a personal driveway shoveling program. But remind them that the cost of that will be passed onto them through taxes.

Maybe if we had "ride with the plows" programs like the police have "ride with the squads," people would better understand snow removal operations.

The Geezer said...

For once, young Jeremy "mans up" and tells it plain, like it is.

Hey, I am no friend of WSDOT and their minions, but they did a bang-up job clearing the state highways up my way.

I go out at 4:30 AM to work, and the freeways were superb.

The county of Snohomish even did a credible job on the arterials (whining and a large address book pays, as well as knowing where the bodies are buried, and having them know that you know)

So, good for you all around. No apologies, or falling on swords, just straight up "go pound sand" and spread it where you clear the berm in front of your house.

The Geezer
Proud to be the most censored commenter on these boards.

Jamie Holter said...

We at WSDOT want to clarify something. We clear state highways and interstates. We do not clear secondary roads, city streets and county roads. We use salt, we use sand, we use de-icer, we use plows and blowers and we use graders. We think we did a good job of keeping these roads clear and passable. We are a state agency and have different tools, priorities and plans to clear roads during storms.

Often times in situations like this, people confuse the state, the county and the city and lump us all into one giant "government bureaucracy" that "can't get anything done". We at WSDOT are very proud of the work we do and did during this past storm.

The La Salle engineer's comments are spot on.

It is your apartment owner's responsibility to clear the sidewalks.

Geezer -
I am SHOCKED you have something nice to say about us ;-)


Anonymous said...

I plow snow, I also answer phones for the community I plow for. I have heard....good job, thanks for working during Christmas instead of being home with your loved ones. I also have gotten those calls from people who everyother word is the F bomb and don't leave a name or number and forget that YES I do have caller ID, I also have been asked if we can plow a post office then was told by one of the carriers that SHE wished we didn't plow at all, and if she fell or her rig got damaged would we pay for it?? I say dig yourselves out, help your neighbors, and appreciate those people who are going out during their holidays, working mass amounts of overtime (that uncle sam will take most of), just so they can be told there doing a shitty job! I would just like to add MUCH THANKS to all of you who are out their working day and night, I appreciate everything you do whether or not I can get my sorry ass out of my driveway or not, and I will make other arrangements if I can't.

So again much thanks, I appreciate you and so do a lot of other Americans that aren't so self consumed that they think they personally should be sholved out handed a nice hot cup of hot chocalte and be escorted to where ever their sorry asses are going by a plow.


John Eddy said...

"appreciate those people who are going out during their holidays, working mass amounts of overtime (that uncle sam will take most of), just so they can be told there doing a shitty job!"

Just to be pedantic...

One can work mass amounts of overtime during the holidays *AND* do a shitty job. There isn't a rule that says 'If you're working on Christmas, you're automatically doing a good job.'

I'm not saying anyone did or didn't do a good job, just merely pointing out that you're suggesting that 2 + 3 = 6.

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