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Island County outlines plan to keep roads clear during winter weather | Some roads won’t be plowed

The Island County Public Works Department is urging motorists to plan now for winter road driving, and is warning that some roads won’t be plowed when bad weather hits.

While Whidbey Island doesn’t normally experience a lot of snow, when the flakes fall, drivers should consider changing driving habits and use appropriate snow tires or traction devices.

Black ice is a different problem, because sanding has limited benefits and the sand can quickly be blown off the surface by traffic and high winds. Officials said it is extremely hard to predict when and where black ice will form, but heavy frost on windshields is an indication that a similar frost coating may also exist on roadway surfaces.

The Island County Road Division works on priority roads during winter weather, with primary attention given to clearing school bus and commuter routes, which are generally the principle roadways for both morning and evening travel.

Secondary roads are plowed and sanded as crews are available after the primary routes are clear. Because of the steepness and danger involved, county officials said some roads may not be plowed or sanded.

Road department operations are usually limited to the hours of 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, though extreme conditions can warrant a 24-hour response. Weekend and holiday operations will be on an emergency call-out basis only, officials said.

Loaded snow removal trucks may weigh up to 20 tons each and are vulnerable to snowy and icy road conditions, especially on grades in excess of 8 percent. Conditions may dictate that steep roads that cannot be safely plowed and sanded will be closed.

County roads that may not be plowed or sanded include streets in areas of Possession Shores and Scatchet Head.

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County road crews do not plow or sand any private roads, streets, driveways, alleyways or parking lots unless there is a clear and imminent threat to lives or properties as the result of an emergency; upon request from fire and law enforcement to assist in emergency response to structure fires or medical alerts where access is impeded due to heavy snow; and where a county-declared emergency exists and assistance is warranted and approved by the board of commissioners.

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