News

Workers handle storm

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette


The snow and ice have come and mostly gone for now, but city and county crews still are dealing with the aftermath.

Paul Haines, Sequim Public Works director, said that this week and possibly into next road crews will use a street sweeper to pick up about 120 tons of gravel placed on city streets during the storms.



One of the city of Sequim’s trucks spreads de-icer on a street during the Monday snowstorm. Crews used 120 tons of gravel and applied 5 tons of de-icer throughout city limits Monday morning through Wednesday evening.   Photo courtesy of the city of Sequim 


City road crews worked 200 man-hours Monday morning to Wednesday evening to clear roads and sidewalks. Five tons of de-icer were sprayed on roads and walkways.

Haines said he is proud of the public works staff’s efforts and the community’s efforts in cleaning up sidewalks.

“(The snow) came at a quicker pace than we anticipated, but we quickly caught up,” Haines said.

He said most calls into the city were informational and there were only a few citizens who felt they weren’t being served well.

Haines said Sequim now has a stockpile of 200 tons of gravel and 10 tons of de-icer.

High priority areas for road crews working in the city limits are the freeway overpasses, hills, high traffic areas and school routes, if school is in session.

Now crews are focusing their efforts in downtown Sequim, cleaning sidewalk snow debis into roadways for street sweeper pickup.
 
County’s response

City workers joined with Clallam County road crews to buy road supplies and plowed more accessible roads for each other.

Ross Tyler, Clallam County engineer, said Monday was not good for county crews.

“Not only did we get an intense amount of snow but at one point we have five trucks and one had a mechanical breakdown, one was stuck in ditch and another got damaged trying to pull it out,” Tyler said.
“Early Tuesday morning, everything was back online but we played catch up.”

Crews put their emphasis on arterials like Old Olympic Highway, Sequim-Dungeness Way, Woodcock Road and Kitchen-Dick Road, which have high traffic and higher speeds.

Snowplows and graders ran from 5:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and spread 10,000 pounds of salt and 2.7 million pounds of sand from Diamond Point to Blue Mountain Road in non-city limits.

Tyler said working in daylight hours is much safer for crews.

“It’s a white-knuckle job,” he said.

“Once they get going, they are like animals. It’s hard to get them to stop.”

Around-the-clock crews don’t run, due to staff reductions in the past five years, Tyler said.

When snow does come, crews place sand beginning at 5:30 a.m. and if it’s icy, they begin about 6:30 a.m.

“If it’s snowing real hard, sand gets covered up by packed snow and just because we are continually sanding doesn’t mean you’ll always see it,” he said.

“Early morning and late afternoons is when we’ll put the most sand on the roads.”

County crews will work into next week to clean up the roads.

Safety crews help out

Steve Vogel, fire chief for Clallam County Fire District 3, said emergency crews were busy the whole week but a majority of calls came in during the storm.

On Monday, Nov. 22, they had 43 calls and 15 on Nov. 23, ranging from car accidents, to falls, to people needing a ride to the doctor’s office.

Vogel said he feels crews were well-prepared.

“We anticipated the snow and were ready to go with full crews and vehicles chained and ready to go,” Vogel said.

He said a majority of car wreck responses on Monday were cars losing control and going off the road.

“People were calling them in as possible vehicle accidents with possible injuries, but we got there and found they were OK,” Vogel said.

Sequim Police Chief Bill Dickinson said officers responded to a number of weather-related accidents, about 15-20, on Monday but saw numbers taper off on Tuesday.

“It’s like people got home and figured it out to stay home,” Dickinson said.



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