ROAD MAINTENANCE SNOW REMOVAL
Matt Pietrusiewicz, P.E.
Road Maintenance Manager
Snow and ice control is one of the most significant winter activities performed by Yakima County Road Maintenance crews. These crews prepare for each snow season beginning in October with a trial run of equipment installation and a review of safety practices, snow removal routes and policies.
When a winter storm event is forecasted, a liquid de-icer may be applied to road sections known to be more prone to becoming icy. These road sections are typically river bridges, north facing grades and shaded areas. Chemical application rates vary depending upon the forecasted temperature and snowfall accumulations.
During a light snowfall or when freezing rain occurs, spot sanding is done at locations such as signalized intersections, stop signs, bridges, curves, hills or locations where sand is requested by law enforcement agencies; such as the scene of traffic accidents, fires or other emergencies.
Where accidents, fires or emergencies are not involved, notification of slick or icy roads are responded to based on the overall conditions throughout the area of concern. If all roads in a general area are in a similar condition, the roads are addressed as planned to avoid the inefficiencies of skipping back and forth across the area.
During the work week, plowing and sanding operations are scheduled to facilitate the morning commute. In that regard, when a winter storm is forecasted, crews are scheduled to begin work in the early morning hours, well before the morning “rush hour”. This allows them to be on the road ready to respond as conditions change.
In general, during the weekends and weekday evenings, plowing and sanding operations are not initiated until the actual road conditions warrant it.
Remote Weather Information Systems (RWIS)
During the winter months, road conditions and weather forecasts are carefully monitored by road maintenance personnel. Yakima County employs a network of Remote Weather Information Stations (RWIS) located throughout the county. Information gathered at these sites assists the Road Supervisors and the public in determining the current road conditions. Additionally, this information is used to forecast incoming storms and associated road conditions.
Mailboxes are sometimes damaged when plowing occurs. On most occasions, they are knocked down not by the plow itself, but by the force of the snow as it is being pushed aside. However, most mailboxes, if sturdy and properly installed, will withstand this force. While government agencies are not required to replace damaged mailboxes that sit on public right of way, the Yakima County Public Services Department does choose to replace damaged mailboxes as a courtesy. Reapplication of lettering and numbers is the responsibility of the homeowner.
When Clearing Your Driveway
When clearing your driveway, try to pile the snow to the left side as you face your house, specifically when clearing near the road. This will prevent the plow blade from dragging the pile across the front of your driveway. Remember, it is illegal to push snow into the road. Doing so constitutes obstruction of the roadway and can be dangerous to motorists. Please, do not push snow into the road.
Yakima County has the following equipment available for snow removal and sanding operations.
Road Graders 9
10 yard truck plows with sanders 10
5 yard truck plows with sanders 8
Truck plows with sanders and pre-wet systems 2
Truck plows (no sanders) 3
Winter sanding material is stockpiled at four locations throughout the County.