Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Environmentalism Run Amok

I grew up in Toronto where it snow a lot in the winter. Before and during every storm, the city would salt the roads so when the snow falls, it would melt as it mixes with the salt crystals. It's not too good for the cars and roadside greenery but it is very effective and reduces the risk of driving in/after a snowstorm.

Seattle and Portland does not get that much snow. However, the morons that run the cities decided to not salt the roads due to "environmental" concerns. The chief of Seattle's DOT (chief Wiggins, really) said, "We decided not to utilize salt because it's not a healthy addition to Puget Sound." Is he serious? Isn't Puget Sound part of the Pacific Ocean where there's a lot of salt in the water?

So instead of using salt to melt the snow on the roads, they try to create a hard-packed surface with the snow. The result, predictably, is not that great. Only 4WD cars with chains on the front tires can function on the roads; if you have a RWD car, you probably should stay home.

Sections of Denny Way, seen looking east toward Capitol Hill, remain closed from several snowstorms in the Seattle area since last week.

The scene is similar in Portland. My sister just bought a new Acura MDX which has Super Handling AWD. Even with chains on the front wheels, she was having difficulty getting traction on the unsalted roads of Portland. I understand the need to protect the environment. But when a rare major snowstorm blows through town, you need to put people's safety first. Salting the roads once or twice a year won't have much impact on the salinity of Puget Sound. Meanwhile, the roads are safe and the city can keep functioning.

From another article at
Sunday was full of car crashes, even after several pleas from State Patrol and local police to stay off the roads.

The State Patrol responded to 157 collisions Sunday in King County. Troopers also responded to another 312 disabled vehicles.

Between noon and midnight on Saturday, the State Patrol responded to 246 collisions and disabled vehicles in King County. Of those, 179 occurred between 5 p.m. and midnight.


A Sound Transit bus stuck in the snow on 9th Ave., East of Westlake Ave. in Seattle. (December 22, 2008)

No comments: