December 5, 2005 in City

It’s winter and snowy: Drivers, slow down

By The Spokesman-Review
 

It was just plain disappointing.

There were so many slide-offs and fender benders last week during our first big storm of the season that it almost seemed like Spokane had never seen snow before.

Have that many people moved here from Seattle and California or did we just forget in less than a year how to drive in inclement weather?

So, here’s the familiar harping to slow down coupled with the less frequent reminder to maintain extra distance between your vehicle and the person in front of you.

And remember, four-wheel-drive won’t help you stop any faster.

Snow removal

Well, leaf removal turned pretty quickly into snow plowing. But how soon should city residents expect the plows to visit their neighborhoods?

Plows start on the main arterials, move to secondary arterials and bus routes, then on to residential hills and finally other residential streets.

City officials say it takes about 72 hours to plow the entire city, barring additional storms.

If the snow starts falling again, crews start over with the main arterials. That can mean a lot of build-up on residential streets if storms quickly follow each other.

Not completely ignored

Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman Al Gilson took issue with my description last Monday of how different Eastern Washington highways are treated before and after snow storms.

While “level 4” highways get much less attention than other highways, they aren’t “left alone,” Gilson said, explaining that they are sometimes pre-treated with deicers and may be plowed.

But the bulk of attention goes to level 1 Interstate 90 and level 2 and 3 highways.

Because they have the least traffic, level 4 highways are the state’s lowest priority when it comes to snow removal. Anyone driving on them in the winter shouldn’t count on them being plowed, and should prepare for compact snow and ice.

To find out how the highways you drive rate, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/regions/eastern/winter.

Caught red-tanked

Banks use dye-packs to thwart robbers.

The state uses red dye to catch people trying to avoid paying diesel fuel taxes.

It’s illegal to use red-dyed fuel for anything other than off-road equipment, government vehicles and some farm equipment. This fuel is not taxed the same 31 cents a gallon that other diesel is taxed.

That means some people try to save a few bucks by using it in commercial vehicles.

Well, they’d better watch out because the Washington State Patrol is checking commercial vehicles this month for the dye.

In two years such patrols have assessed $1.3 million in fines.

If you want to rat-out that obnoxious neighbor with the loud truck, call the fuel tax evasion hotline at 800-497-FUEL.

License tabs

Last week Getting There told you about how your vehicle license tabs will be increasing next year by anywhere from $10-$45 to pay for state highway improvements.

The price hike was part of the same package that increased state gas taxes.

I’m curious abut how the license tab change will go over next year. Let me know what you think.


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