DOT updates snow priorities

December 7, 2010

By Staff

The state Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol announced a plan last week to join forces the next time ice and snow cover roads.

The agencies announced the creation of two Joint Response Teams — a DOT snowplow and a state patrol cruiser — to be deployed to collisions involving buses, tractor-trailers and other large vehicles. The teams plan to work in the King County area.

Transportation officials also announced a plan to convert pickups into mini-sanders. The smaller vehicles should be able to maneuver more easily between stopped vehicles than full-size sanders or snowplows.

The agencies plan for the mini-sanders to work alongside troopers to reach accidents scenes faster in congested areas.

“We’re still seeing large semi-trucks, without chains, jackknifing and bottling up hundreds of other cars behind them,” Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a statement. “Our troopers will be writing citations for all chain-up violations they spot, even if there hasn’t yet been a collision.”

The announcement followed the debilitating Nov. 22 snowstorm. Troopers responded to 970 incidents in King County as a snowstorm snarled roads across the region Nov. 22 and 23. The agency handled multiple car collisions, jackknifed semi trucks and impassible roadways.

“Our people in the field saw some opportunities for improvement and developed a good action plan,” Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond said. “We want to improve our ability to respond directly to high-impact collisions, especially involving large vehicles, that potentially could impact hundreds of other motorists.”

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