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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Vancouver lays de-icer on streets to get ahead of snow

By Katy Sword The Columbian

The city of Vancouver is snow ready. In fact, preventative measures have already occurred. The city applied de-icer to streets Monday evening for the first time this year.

De-icer is generally applied to major streets, overpasses and major intersections that are prone to slick driving conditions. This year, Portland may test the widespread use of salt for the first time, but Vancouver is sticking with de-icer.

The city makes the product itself by the ton.

De-icer reserves are currently stocked full at 300 tons with the ability to mix up to 10,000 gallons per hour if conditions demand more.

The first flakes have yet to fall, but that doesn’t mean the city is waiting for conditions to worsen the way they did last winter.

“We did what we could to stay on top of it, follow our snow plan and keep the traveling public moving,” said Ryan Miles, Public Works streets superintendent. He deems last winter a relative success and said the city will keep its snow management plan the same.

“We try to be proactive about getting in front of a storm, looking at weather forecasts and working with weather people to know what to expect,” Miles said.

At the first sign of a storm, city staff begins planning crews and pretreating roads as much as possible. If crews can get de-icer down, preferably on dry pavement, it’s more effective in the long-run, Miles said.

Staff are ready to plow if needed. The city has 18 vehicles of varying sizes that can move snow.

“It’s been a focus of the city to be able to have vehicles equipped within reason to move the snow without having more than you need to effectively manage it,” he said.

Plowing priorities

Though many ask the city each season to help with snow removal on residential streets, the city does not plow in those neighborhoods. Miles said if the city did spend time and resources on residential streets, main arterials would suffer. On occasion, a residential street will receive priority but only if emergency services need access and can’t get through without a plow.

Priority is given to major streets that connect emergency services, followed by arterials, bus routes and streets near schools.

The city also doesn’t clear sidewalks.

“Property owners are responsible for keeping sidewalks passable,” said Loretta Callahan, public information officer. “Whether that’s sweeping them off or shoveling them or using something to make sure they’re not slick is very much appreciated. A lot of people don’t want to drive so they’re walking, or walking to a bus stop.”

The skies may be sunny for now, but winter storms are brewing.

“A lot of people in general want to know if we’re ready to go,” Miles said. “We are.”

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