Local Information

Drivers urged to prepare for tough travel conditions due to snow and ice on Eastern Washington highways

Friday, March 1, 2019 - 12:17

Beth Bousley, communications, 509-324-6015
Ryan Overton, communications, 509-324-6014

SPOKANE – Travel on Eastern Washington highways will continue to be challenging as extraordinary winter conditions keep road crews working around the clock, performing under great pressure to battle drifting snow and road closures. The Washington State Department of Transportation is asking for help from the public to drive for the conditions, obey road closure signs, and give maintenance vehicles enough room to work safely.

“Safety is our number one priority for both the people who use our roads and our employees who are pulling 12-hour shifts to try to keep travel possible during these difficult conditions,” said WSDOT Regional Administrator Mike Gribner. “For those who must travel, be prepared to take it slow, obey emergency road closure signs, and don’t crowd the plow.”

Over 200  maintenance crew members will continue to work to keep the 3,900 lane miles of state highway safe for travel across Washington state’s seven northeast counties. State Route 27 through the Palouse region has been particularly hard hit. “We’ve seen 4-foot drifts accumulate within two hours of a snow plow clearing parts of that road,” said WSDOT Maintenance Manager Ken Heale. “Staying out of closed areas is not only for safety but also to keep resources on the road instead of rescuing people in a stuck vehicle.”

Since it is important that high priority roads remain open, 23 mechanics assigned to the area are mission-critical in keeping over 100 pieces of heavy equipment out on the road and available to adjoining regions. “This equipment takes a beating,” Heale added. “You may see one of our mechanics underneath a huge plow on the side of the road in icy, snowy conditions, repairing and replacing broken parts to get that vehicle back to work as soon as possible.”

Before heading out the door, travelers should check the latest conditions to know before they go. WSDOT has several online tools and resources available for winter weather trip planning.

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