Elevation signs posted in Portland’s hills warn drivers of possi - KPTV - FOX 12

Elevation signs posted in Portland’s hills warn drivers of possible snow

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The Portland Bureau of Transportation on Thursday unveiled yet another way it’s hoping to improve winter travel this season, demonstrating the installation of a new sign during its fifth snow-related press event so far this fall.

It comes nearly a year after the city’s infamous ‘snowpocalypse’ storm on Dec. 15, where a few inches of snow crippled the city, resulting in traffic gridlock leaving drivers trapped in their cars for hours. Some abandoned vehicles all together.

In this latest effort to improve on last year’s snow response and encourage residents to prepare, crews recently finished installing 50 signs on busier streets at higher elevation levels in the city. The signs let drivers know if they are at 500 or 1,000 feet elevation.

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said the goal is to raise awareness among drivers who might not realize they are at higher elevations that typically see more snow. Rivera said the city hopes people who live, work and spend time in these areas will keep emergency kits and chains in their cars so they aren’t left stranded and helpless when the snow starts flying.

FOX 12 spoke to a woman who works nearby the new “Elevation 500 ft.” sign posted at SW Capitol Highway and Canby Street.

Mary Bedard said she noticed the sign a few days ago, but isn’t necessarily convinced the signs will be helpful before or during a snowstorm.

Still, Bedard said that after last year’s storms, she supports the city’s effort to improve.

“I think the severity caught everybody by surprise and I think we just haven’t invested in the infrastructure – the extra snowplows – I’m really glad to hear about that,” Bedard said. “So yeah, I think they are on the right track.”

The city allocated PBOT more money this year to address winter issues. Earlier this fall, the bureau announced it had purchased salt to use of the roads, added more snowplows to its fleet, improved snow response protocols and partnerships and beefed up its website with a new “Winter Weather Center.” The website can be found here.

Rivera said the city started deicing streets within the last few days, using the streak of dry weather to “get ahead” and spray roads at higher elevations that could freeze up later. 

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