Inclement weather response
Inclement weather (flooding, high winds, freezing rain, ice or snow) can create difficult travel conditions for travelers on streets, roads and highways throughout the region. Although weather-related events are often predictable and forecasted, unforeseen events and circumstances can occur at any time.
The LUT Operations and Maintenance Division is prepared to respond to any weather-related event and coordinates all winter road operations with state and local agencies. In particular, Washington County is a party to mutual aid agreements such as the Cooperative Public Agencies of Washington County and the MORE Intergovernmental Agreement.
Washington County maintains about 1,300 centerline miles of roadway, from urban arterials carrying over 40,000 vehicles per day, to dead-end gravel roads carrying fewer than 10. The County does not have sufficient operations resources to inspect all roadways for weather-related issues either during, afteror in anticipation of a storm.To make the most of our resources, LUT identifies priority routes that provide access to critical facilities, emergency services and major highways. During extended events, the Operations Division may operate on a 24-hour basis.
"High water" warning signs are posted when water covers part of a traffic lane, but the road can still be used without creating a danger to traffic. Road closure barricades are set up when traffic lanes in one or both directions are under water or when water is flowing across the roadway creating dangerous driving conditions.
Permanent, manual-locking flood gates were installed on Susbauer and Fern Hill roads to allow for more efficient closure of the roads during high water events. Both roads frequently flood during periods of heavy rainfall. Unlike portable barricades, the gates lock in place, preventing motorists from driving into floodwaters.
High winds often result in trees falling and blocking roads. Downed trees often involve power lines, and LUT's ability to clear the road is dependent on PGE's ability to clear the lines.
Power outages can affect traffic signals. If signals are out or are flashing red, treat intersection as a 4-way STOP.
Ice and snow
When icy conditions are predicted, anti-icing materials may be applied in areas identified as being problematic to minimize slippery conditions. Anti-icing agents are typically applied before inclement weather. Road surface, humidity, air temperature, moisture, weather and other factors are considered before application.When ice or snow creates slick conditions, roads may be sanded to improve traction. A clean, finely graded crushed aggregate, or anti-skid material, is mechanically spread at intersections, curves, on hills and other problem areas.
Additionally, three areas in Washington County have been designated as "snow-zones" –areas where motorists are required by law to have tire chains or traction tires on or in vehicles when traveling on these road segments during severe weather. The zones are located on portions of 175th Avenue, Barnes Road and Cornell Road. Learn more at www.snow-zones.com.