As the Snoqualmie Valley experienced its first significant snowfall in almost five years, that 8-14 inches of reported snow (depending on exact location) left some North Bend residents wondering about the city’s snow removal program – and other residents curious if the city even had its snow plows running on December 9th and 10th.
Short answer – YES. The plows were running. North Bend Director of Public Works Mark Rigos said the city has 2 1/2 snow plows. Two large plows where a blade is attached to large city dump trucks and can clear one lane at a time – and a smaller “half” plow where a blade is attached to the front of a city truck. The smaller plow is better at maneuvering smaller city streets and parking lots.
Rigos said the plows and sanders were running Friday – Sunday. Unfortunately, one of the large plows did break Friday night, so for the remainder of the weekend they were down to 1 1/2 plows. He said the plows focused on priority routes 1 and 2… that side streets had to wait. [You can see a larger map of those routes HERE.]
Double the snow for North Bend
North Bend did pick up almost double the amount of snow compared to nearby Snoqualmie, which resulted in those city plows having a lot more work to do, along with a lot more snow to melt off. Snoqualmie picked up somewhere around 4 inches of snow while downtown North Bend was around 8 inches – and neighborhoods outside the city limits reported about a foot of snow.
Rigos explained that the City also does not have a de-icer program like Snoqualmie does. He said this is because North Bend doesn’t have as many curvy roads and steep hills, with the Forrester Woods neighborhood being the only [city limits] neighborhood with hills.
De-icer allows snow plows to be more efficient, helping to keep snow from sticking to roads that have been treated. Rigos estimated investing in a de-icer program could cost the city around $20,000 per year. He said after this recent snow event he plans to bring up the topic with city council and see if they wish to add de-icer to their snow maintenance plan, but recognized that the city wants to spend tax dollars as efficiently as possible – and had been years without a significant snow event, along with the North Bend lacking hills and curvy, tight roads that traditionally make de-icer a necessity for many cities.
In a nutshell, Rigos said city employees were working all weekend – even when they were down a large plow, but with a lot of snow and without de-icer to help with snow plow efficiency, it was slow going with snow removal.
[ ** North Bend neighborhoods outside the city limits – in unincorporated King County – are maintained by the county and not the city’s Public Works Department. Some of these neighborhoods do have steep hills and more curving roads. **]