Mayor says he’s committed to updating city snow response plan

A City of Edmonds snowplow at work on Dec. 26. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

Following significant snow and extended freezing temperatures during the past week that have challenged the around-the-clock snow-and-ice removal efforts of Edmonds Public Works crews, Mayor Mike Nelson said Monday he is committed to updating the city’s snow response plan.

“Our dedicated public works crews have worked day and night plowing snow that has refused to melt because of the extended freezing weather,” Nelson said in a city-issued press release. “Like you, my streets haven’t been plowed either. I, too, have been frustrated with the sheer amount of snow that has made it difficult to travel in our community. With our climate crisis, weather events like this snowstorm are likely to increase in frequency and strength in the near future.”

Nelson said he has asked Acting Public Works Director Rob English “to completely reassess our snow removal plan. This will include examining if we need more equipment, more staff, or more routes to effectively respond to these anticipated changes to winter weather,” Nelson said.

Updating the current plan will also include identifying the most current practices of snow removal that can be utilized while weighing the environmental impacts of those techniques, Nelson said. “We need to review our sand and salt mixture but must be cautious because salt is toxic to the fish and wildlife of Puget Sound.”

With the recent storm, the City of Edmonds street maintenance group began their snow response on Dec. 25, the city said. This included plowing, sanding with a salt/sand mixture, and other measures initiated in a round-the-clock rotation of 12-hour shifts with city snowplows, sanding trucks, and other incident-response and assist vehicles.

Two plows were operating 24 hours a day, with a third plow working 14 hours a day, the city said, with over 400 tons of sand and 3,000 gallons of anti-ice product were applied to city roads. Throughout the inclement weather, the city’s fleet maintenance crew kept all vehicles up and running.

The current plan can be viewed on city’s website under Winter Storm Response here


12 Replies to “Mayor says he’s committed to updating city snow response plan”

  1. I have lived in Edmonds my entire life. We have had cold periods including snow in our history like this before. This prolonged type of weather is not new to our very hilly community.

    I would prefer the focus and support be on the road crews working hard under dangerous conditions to help keep us safe. Our streets were plowed and sanded. The only reason we were able to move was because of the stellar effort of the crews. We would like to say thank you very much for your efforts. You did a great job under very difficult conditions and are greatly appreciated!


  2. #Wokist Mayor Nelson again jumps the shark per this is a “climate crisis” …it is simply called “weather” and has occurred many times over the past 100+ years


  3. I hope the mayor can deliver. I also hope he can deliver on garbage collection. Mine has not been picked up since Dec. 20.


    1. I agree with your comments, thank you and thanks to our road crews!! It’s winter, stock up your homes and be prepared to stay in a few days during bad weather!! This snow event happened during the holidays when schools, large businesses were already closed. In the PNW snow fall is seldom and normally lasts a few days before our rain returns, people aren’t used to driving in snowy conditions and can cause more hazardous situations!!
      Thanks also to the sanitation department for doing the best they could for garbage pick ups. The messes they cleaned up from over flowing garbage and recycling was immense!!


  4. I totally agree with Mayor Nelson. I’ve lived in Edmonds for 30+ years and we always seem to be the last city to become drivable when it snows. During this most recent snow event I had visitors to my house from Mukilteo and Mill Creek and they both stated that roads on their trip down were fine until they got to Edmonds. The public works crews used to put up road closed barricades at the top of hills in Edmonds when it snowed, this doesn’t happen anymore, at least not in my neighborhood. I’m used to my street not getting plowed but they could at least attempt to clear side streets a little better once the main roads have been dealt with in order to help people get to the main roads safely. I’m not sure what other cities are doing that seems to be working better, Edmonds isn’t the only city with hills, but I hope they can come up with a new and improved plan for snow response.


  5. I have only lived here 15 years and this is just the third time that I remember a snow event like this causing several days of impassable or nearly impassable streets. Each time there were complaints and requests for an explanation as to why it has to be this bad. However, once the snow has melted, the noise dies down, and we do little, if anything, to change it for the next time.


  6. I am the street department manager for Edmonds. I’ve held this position since 2007 and have been employed in the department for 25 years. 23 years ago the city created the policies of snow and ice control to be as environmentally conscious as possible. This is in an effort to sustain a viable saltwater estuary called the “Edmonds Marsh” along with providing the best water quality for our salmon bearing streams. We have maintained that mind set even in the harshest of criticism and and during the most difficult of weather. There is a simple answer to the question of “why are Edmonds streets not like our neighboring cities…. SALT. it’s that simple. When you drive through those cities you compare us to and it’s 17 degrees out and their roads are covered in slush, it’s due to HUNDREDS of tons of SALT. Edmonds utilizes the most expensive and environmentally friendly anti-ice called CMA. It doesn’t work the best, but is it environmentally neutral. Up until just last year we have never used salt. We had lost Main Street and Puget so we made the call to get some of the States salt sand mix to regain those major arterials. It was decided that we should have some of this on hand to prevent the same from reoccurring. Our crews held it back until the snow stopped flying… we used it sparingly to maintain those critical corridors. We used a total of 50 yards in a three to one mix with sand during the entire event. I can assure you that much was spread by our neighbors in the first few hours of the event. NO PRIORITY ROUTES were ever closed ! Our crews work very hard to provide the safest roads we can with the equipment and supplies we posses. There is a clear misconception that a plow truck can just cut through the ice to bare pavement, and that just is not the case. We have rubber tipped plow blades to prevent damage to our roads and infrastructure such as sewer and storm manholes. SALT, it’s that simple


    1. Tod, first a thank-you to you and your crew. I’m one of those former Midwesterners, but I recognize how different the roads are here, and the snow events. The sand vs. salt and when to apply it questions have different answers ever across that region – I lived in Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota, and all take different approaches because the conditions are so different.
      I know that after the big 2006 Seattle snowstorm that ended Seattle Mayor Nickels’ career there was a lot of discussion about salt vs. sand. Many places switched to salt, I understand, because the runoff water goes right out into the (saltwater) Sound, while sand can clog salmon spawning beds. I hadn’t thought about the marsh that lies between Edmonds and the Sound, and how salt could really affect those plants and wildlife.
      Thank you, again, for doing your best to clear the roads and make them safe.


    2. Tod:
      I live in downtown Edmonds and have traveled to the Westgate area every single day, including the Sunday morning of the storm. I drive an all-wheel drive sedan and have never had a problem. I believe that you should keep on doing what you’re doing.


    3. First off, thank you and your crew for your efforts and hard work during the challenging storm last week. On 12/28 about 6:00pm I drove down the hill on Edmonds Way and then on to 5th Avenue South. The road was a complete solid frozen sheet of ice. Fortunately, I have brand new winter snow tires and 4-wheel drive. The road was mostly abandoned except for two cars and a struggling truck stuck going back up the hill because of the poor road conditions. If that priority route was not closed, it should have been. Maybe review of a few hilly routes that might have a little bit of salt added for safety is good idea. I would hope being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean having to force people to be trapped in their homes.


    4. I hope that the considerations that led to the past policy are again part of the conversation for the re-visited snow removal talks. Perhaps we need a better result and the right balance is at a different mixture of approaches—or perhaps we just need the public better informed that we are accepting worse winter road conditions than our neighboring cities in order to be good environmental stewards of our many streams and creeks.

      Information is helpful- thank you to both Mayor Nelson and Mr Moles for communicating. And thank you to the Public Works department in general for their hard work in this (and every) storm.


  7. I totally agree with Ms. Olson with her take on this. Turning this snow emergency situation into some sort of adversarial conflict between the public and good or bad public service is a silly waste of time. It looks to me like the city did it’s best to help us all cope. Bell street hill near me was plowed and treated twice by city trucks and both times it just happened to snow again several hours later. How does the city have any control over that happening? The vehicles I personally observed having trouble getting around were mainly two wheel drive vehicles not equipped with good tires and/or no traction devices. When I lived in the mid-west, where snow issues were an annual thing, it was just understood that the city would do what little it could to help but if you were serious about going places, you better be personally equipped right to do it. Pretty simple stuff really. Use all wheel drive, four wheel drive, studded tires or chains or some combination of such or stay home. Keep good all season tires on your vehicle and plan ahead for bad road conditions. It’s called being responsible for yourself and people you share the roads with.


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