Motorists encounter fallen trees on local, regional roads

January 19, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

State Route 900 remains barricaded at midafternoon Jan. 20 to motorists wanting to go southbound past Northwest Talus Drive, a day after a downed tree blocked access to the urban village. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 1:15 p.m. Jan. 19, 2012

State transportation officials said the ice after a major snowstorm continues to create difficult driving conditions throughout the region.

Department of Transportation planners said frigid temperatures should continue to cause harsh conditions throughout Thursday.

“We had our crews out all night de-icing the roads. We threw everything we had at this storm — sand, de-icer, salt and plows,” Regional Maintenance Manager Dave McCormick said. “It’s so widespread that it’s been very difficult to keep up.”

State Route 900 is closed at Southeast May Valley Road. State Route 18 remains closed from Auburn Way and Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast due to multiple downed trees for several miles. State Route 202 is closed between Fall City and Snoqualmie due to downed trees. The roads should remain closed for several hours.

In Issaquah, crews responded a downed tree and power lines before 7:50 a.m. between Northwest Talus Drive and the southern city limits. The stretch between the access road to the Talus urban village and the city line remains closed as Puget Sound Energy crews tend to the downed tree.

Southeast 56th Street from 229th Avenue Southeast to East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast is closed due to downed power lines.

Trees loaded with snow continue to snap and fall on state highways and local streets across King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Crews said a coating of ice on trees is further complicating travel. Motorists should be on the lookout for falling debris as well as ice on roads.

“We haven’t seen trees come down like this in years,” state Department of Transportation Maintenance Manager Chris Johnson said.

King County Road Services Division crews reported little improvement in road conditions in the afternoon. In addition to the snow, a mixture of freezing rain and sleet has turned most roadways into sheets of ice.

Motorists should check the forecast and check conditions before heading out. Drivers should consider waiting before driving and putting off unnecessary trips.

“We need drivers’ help,” McCormick said. “The more prepared you are, the better it is for everyone.”

Residents should also check storm drains to make sure ice or snow is not clogging the drain to ensure proper drainage as temperatures warm and melting starts.

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