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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

Some apparent solutions…

Good morning, everyone...

First, before I defend my use of the term Queen Mary let me set the stage just a bit. Both my wife and I have lived for decades in the so-called snow zone: me in Colorado's high country, Suzie in the Midwest snow belt. We have both seen huge ugly blizzards that shut down major cities, with snow totals that exceeded the 26+ inches that fell yesterday. Yes, I can recall a 29 inch snowfall that fell in less than 24 hours. It was hideous, but Denver was back up and operational within 14 hours after the snow stopped falling. The same applies to Lincoln, Nebraska. You wait until the snow stops, then throw every resource you have at clearing the streets. You don't wait overnight to put every resource on the job. Until the streets are cleared, only emergency traffic is allowed. This is the price one pays for living in Spokane. Here are some of my apparent recommendations and solutions:

First, administratively declare a “snow emergency”, somewhat similar to what city officials do in other cities. Under the terms of this type of declaration, people must stay home by ordinance until the emergency passes, thus allowing the snow plows to effectively clear the streets. This would probably be as unpopular as the mess we have today, but it would substantially solve the problem areas, such as the South Hill areas and impassable city thoroughfares.

Parking on main thoroughfares, under the terms of this ordinance, is prohibited until the streets are clear of snow. Once again, unpopular but extremely effective.

It is 6:00 AM, and thankfully we have finally seen a snow plow working its way up Nevada overnight. Waiting 24 hours for that to happen is simply unacceptable. The minute it stopped snowing, Mayor Verner should have seen to it that EVERY snow-removal resource available, including contract graders and plows, were put on the streets, regardless of the hour. That hidden contract between the City and temporary contractors needs to be examined in public and corrected.

Not having a plan on how to dispose of the HUGE snow berms in downtown's main streets is unacceptable. A parking plan should be put into play so that cars parked on main thoroughfares are subject to being towed until the snow, including the berms, are removed from all main thoroughfares. Unpopular, yes, but vital to prevent the kinds of debacle that we are presented with today.

Make deploying sanding trucks, not de-icer trucks a priority NOW. De-icer only works at temperatures above 20 degrees and we are facing a week of near or sub-zero temperatures with a considerable snow pack on the streets. This is an invitation for additional accidents and injuries, as we have already seen in today's commute. I can name the streets that are still at or near-impassable conditions due to ice on the roadway after the plows passed. The only cure is apply traction sand. That needs to be done on all major intersections.

The good news is it will stop snowing later on today. The bad news is then it will get frigid again, and then later this weekend the possibility of 4-6 inches of more snow.


Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.