For a lot of us, the arrival of fall weather means colorful leaves, sharing special meals with family or college football. For the folks at Thurston County Public Works, autumn means preparations for keeping roadways open in case an emergency situation arises.
Right now, Public Works officials are tracking the possibility of severe weather and the impact on county residents. That includes briefings provided by the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through a contract with Northwest Weathernet and other sources. Weather related concerns include-
- Heavy or prolonged rain storms that can bring flooding.
- Lowland accumulations of snow.
- Ice and/or freezing rain
- High winds.
Crews have also done maintenance on 31 vehicles to make sure they are ready for winter. That includes 10, 10-yard trucks with plows, 3, 5-yard trucks with plows and various graders, anti-icing trucks and sanders. Meanwhile, five bull pens across the county have been stocked with sand, de-icer, traffic signs and other materials. Sand bags distribution is coordinated with the local Fire Departments.
Officials have also prepared crew assignments and coordinated with other county offices and departments such as Emergency Management, the Sheriff's Office and 9-1-1 Dispatch.
Public Works typically does not send out snowplows until two inches or more of snow has fallen. However the department conducts de-icing activities in a preemptive approach at specific roadway locations that are prone to ice accumulation.
Public Works is responsible for 1,035 centerline miles of roadway which have been broken down to priority and secondary routes for snow plowing. These routes consist of 172 miles of arterials, 200 miles of collectors and 387 miles of local access roads. After all of these roads have been plowed, equipment may move onto other local access roadways. A map of the routes can be found on our web site at www.co.thurston.wa.us/publicworks/2015/winter.aspx-30-