Portland still digging out after snowstorm; PBOT gauges salt vs. - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland still digging out after snowstorm; PBOT gauges salt vs. de-icer

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Source: KPTV Source: KPTV
Source: KPTV Source: KPTV

It's been days since Portland was blanketed in the biggest snow storm the city has seen in nearly a decade, and in many places people are still digging out.

Road crews from the Portland Bureau of Transportation and Oregon Department of Transportation have made a lot of progress already, with crews working long shifts around the clock, but there are also still a number of trouble spots.

At North Interstate and Lombard on Friday afternoon, the packed snow and ice made the drive feel more like going over a washboard. One driver described it as feeling like she was on a roller coaster.

“It’s crazy, I don’t know why this intersection – it’s the worst intersection I’ve seen from Chautauqua up to here,” said Jennifer Faris, who didn’t dare drive but was en route to a bus stop.

According to PBOT, the problem in places like that is that the top layer of fluffy snow has already been plowed away. Now, there are several inches of hard packed snow and ice covering the pavement. Crews with chains are going through to try and break up the surface, but it’s a slow process.

“It’s icy, I just about fell before I came up to you guys,”said Jake Insley, who was taking the MAX from a Park-And-Ride lot. “I work in northeast, having to take back roads the whole time, so it’s pretty bad.”

The extra plow and sanding crews that arrived from Seattle have been a big help, said a spokesperson from PBOT.

The Seattle Department of Transportation crews focused Friday on a number of areas throughout Portland, including Southeast Foster from Powell to I-205, Northeast Glisan from Sandy to 162nd, 122nd starting at Northeast Marine Drive to Southeast Foster and Northeast Columbia Blvd from MLK to Killingsworth.

With the exception of a tree crew from Seattle, the rest of the “extra help” was going back home at the end of Friday’s shifts.

The Seattle crews brought loads of salt, which is not typically used on Portland roads during snowstorms. PBOT reported that after the initial assessment, the effect of the road salt was "limited" and did not provide a significant improvement compared with the bureau's standard de-icer. 

"Since this experiment was limited in both duration and the number of locations, PBOT will continue to look for opportunities to assess alternative treatment options, including road salt, in the future," according to a PBOT statement. 

As for PBOT crews, work will continue around the clock through the weekend with slightly smaller staffing levels in order to give employees much-needed rest.

Crews are focusing on primary and secondary plow routes to support transit lines - view the map here - so you may need to alter your route by a few blocks to find the streets that are in the best shape.

If you must go through areas where this is still packed snow and ice, it’s still a good idea to have chains or traction tires.

“Little cars like this Toyota?” Faris said, looking at traffic. “No studs, no chains. It’s ridiculous, it’s like why are you even out? I get cabin fever, but take the bus!”

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