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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

City leader wants state to outlaw studded tires

Sean Hiyffman swaps regular tires for snow tires on Friday at Tire Rama on Northwest Boulevard in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland)

This would be the last winter you could use studded snow tires if Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and others have their way.

Frustrated with the millions of dollars in damage caused by the metal cleats chewing up pavement, Stuckart is hoping state lawmakers would finally agree to ban studded tires if they knew Eastern Washington’s largest city is backing the effort. But if that request falls short, he’s hoping to at least persuade them to impose hefty user fees on the tires to help offset the cost of repairing the damage.

“What I’m hoping is they’ll ban them,” Stuckart emphasized this week, pointing to studies showing that advances in non-studded snow tires now provide motorists with safer alternatives. The City Council president is making the studded-tire ban a key part of Spokane’s legislative agenda for the 2013 session that opens in Olympia in January.

Backers say the issue must be addressed at the state level, in part because of how Washington statutes are drafted but also because it would be impractical to impose bans or user fees at the local level. If one city banned or taxed studded tires, for example, motorists could simply bypass the efforts by purchasing them at tire shops in neighboring towns.

The city estimates damage to local roads caused by studded tires is about $5 million per year. It would take a user fee of $40 per tire to recover the amount taxpayers are spending on the repairs, according to the city’s estimates. The state estimates about 25 percent of licensed vehicles use studded tires during the winter, causing damage that costs as much as $25 million a year to repair.

Spokane has made numerous attempts to get studded tires banned and has discontinued their use on city vehicles.