Commuters should plan ahead as winter nears

December 16, 2009

By Contributor

NEW — 5:15 p.m. Dec. 16, 2009

After heavy rains in November and bitter cold last week, many King County residents would say winter has been here for some time. Winter, however, does not begin until Dec. 21.

The past few days gave residents a taste of what might be in store in the weeks ahead as precipitation and cold temperatures mix.

King County Road Services Division staffers have been on weather patrol for weeks, but ramped it up across this county starting last Friday through Monday looking for icy roads and other driving hazards.

Now is a good time to review winter-weather travel plans with a few tips from the King County Department of Transportation.

Motorists should follow a few tips to stay safe during winter weather:

  • Allow ample time to reach your destination.
  • Sign up to receive King County Road Alerts, and check out the road closure information from King County and the state Department of Transportation.
  • Equip your vehicle with all-season tires and carry tire chains.
  • Use caution when following a snowplow or sander by allowing at least two car lengths’ distance.
  • If you must abandon your vehicle, park it clear of travel lanes to allow sanding trucks to get through. Cars left in travel lanes may be towed and impounded.
  • Dress for the weather in case you become stranded and have to walk.
  • Caution children about the dangers of sledding on streets.

Metro Transit bus riders should also ready for wintry conditions:

  • Before it snows, check out the new or revised snow routing for the bus routes you use most often, and sign up for alerts for those routes. The alerts can be emailed to your computer or Web-enabled mobile phone.
  • Before you travel in the snowy or icy conditions, visit the new Metro Transit Alerts Center to see if there is any information about the areas where you will be going to and from, or call the Customer Information Office at 206-553-3000. You can also follow Metro on Twitter @kcmetrobus to get general information about significant disruptions.
  • Dress for the weather, and expect delays for buses if traffic is moving slowly.
  • When streets are slick, wait for buses at posted bus stops on flat portions of arterial streets, or at transit center lots or major transfer points; avoid hills. Buses will continue to try to stop at regular stops, but if conditions inside the lots are hazardous buses will serve passengers on the street outside the lot.
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