Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews remain hard at work Thursday afternoon, responding to a storm system that continues to wreak havoc on state
Among the major trouble spots WSDOT crews are working to clear this hour are State Route 302 in Pierce County and southbound I-5 in south Thurston County.
“We have more than 1,000 people working around the clock, with 450 trucks out on the road clearing close to 20,000 highway lane miles,” said WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond. “We need drivers help. Your route will most likely have snow, but the amount and severity could change. We need drivers to prepare for winter driving conditions, especially on ramps, bridges, intersections and lower volume highways. Before you go, check our Web site and local media reports.”
Drivers in most areas of Washington have been dealing with winter weather since early this morning, with compact snow and ice reported on highways all across Washington.
The mountain passes and Spokane were especially hard hit, with compact snow and ice, wind and single digit temperatures across most of Eastern Washington. Reports say this weather could continue tonight, with clearing and cold temperatures expected Friday and Saturday. Forecasts call for more snow late Saturday into Sunday.
With this winter weather slowing drivers, the WSDOT Web site also experienced record usage and a bit of a slowdown Wednesday and today. There were 5.8 million page views Wednesday, a new WSDOT web usage record. By 11 a.m. today, the agency had close to 2.5 million page views.
Between 9 and 11 a.m. today, the agency established a text version of the WSDOT
homepage and Seattle traffic site and directed users to the WSDOT blog and Twitter site for updated traffic reports. Visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/news to sign up for the WSDOT blog and Twitter updates.
Drivers who are ready for the weather and drive safely help WSDOT and themselves, said Hammond. One spin-out can block traffic for hours and cause additional incidents. And, clearing incidents can also take crews away from road-clearing activities.
Drivers should be prepared, carry chains, slow down and give themselves extra time to safely reach their destination. Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shady spots. These all have potential to develop black ice that makes driving hazardous.
WSDOT offers the following tips for travelers:
— Get information from WSDOT’s Web site at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov before you leave
your home or office.
— *511 provides current traffic, incident and closure information. TTY users can call 1-800-833-6388. Out-of-state callers can access the information at call 1-800-695-ROAD (7623).
— Mountain pass conditions are available at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/ .
— At http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter , drivers can find WSDOT’s winter driving-related information, including preparing a vehicle for winter driving, safe driving tips and mountain pass travel advisories. The WSDOT winter site also offers information about chains, winter tires and how WSDOT maintenance crews work in winter weather.
— On WSDOT’s Web site http:// www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/weather , drivers can look
roadway temperatures and see camera images from across the state.
— At http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/trafficalerts , a map shows highway
incidents and closures.
— WSDOT offers subscribers more than 25 specialized e-mail alerts, including news and information for freight haulers, construction related traffic revisions, project updates from all around the state, and timely updates on pass conditions. Visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov and click the link for “E-mail updates.”
— Twitter users can add WSDOT to their personal accounts at http://twitter.com/wsdot/ .