Portland Will Use Salt to Clear Roads of Snow, Starting This Week

"Portlanders are frustrated and rightly so."

When it snows in Portland, the city shuts down.

Maybe it doesn't have to be like this.

This afternoon, Portland Bureau of Transportation announced a strategy to better deal with winter storms.

"Portlanders are frustrated, and rightly so," Commissioner Dan Saltzman said in a press conference this afternoon.

Saltzman announced that PBOT has secured 100 tons of rock salt that will be available to use as conditions warrant. The bureau plans to use the rock salt on North Going Street, Southwest Terwilliger Blvd and Southeast 112th Avenue.

"We do want to be careful and evaluate how it works for us and that's why we've decided the three roads [are] locations that also have critical value for public health," he says. "We want to make sure we're measuring impact on water quality and fish and wildlife and want to make sure it does really de-ice for us."

City officials also said to expect a difficult commute Thursday afternoon. If road conditions warrant, the city will require chains on West Burnside Street and Sam Jackson Road again.

Saltzman also announced that PBOT will expand plow routes to include an additional 340 lane miles of public school bus routes.

PBOT will also enter a mutual aid agreement with the Seattle Department of Transportation, who lent 11 snow plows to Portland earlier this month. PBOT is also requesting $2.8 million dollars to purchase equipment and materials and account for labor costs to expand its ability to clear roads quickly and efficiently following storms.

"We do not know if this winter is an exception or if it represents a new normal," Saltzman says. "What I do know is Portlanders do expect us to be ready for whatever Mother Nature sends our way, which means we need to enhance our long term capacity to deal with winter events."

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