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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 25, 2008 at 4:10 PM

Riding out the snow



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Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times

One of the many cars stuck in the snow and slush over the past week.

When in Rome

Editor, The Times:

If the Romans could salt Carthage, why can’t Mayor Greg Nickels salt Seattle [“Sand on roads worse than salt, environmentalists say,” Times, News, Dec. 24]? Whatever happened to the concept of the “greater good for the greater number?”

The argument of salt going into the Sound is ludicrously oxymoronic; there is salt in the Sound.

And if you own a business, an apartment or house, a coffee shop, a restaurant, a concert hall, you are obligated to clean those sidewalks adjacent to your property, so people aren’t breaking their asses, elbows and pelvi on your mis-account because of snow/ice/snow buildup.

Not everyone has the luxury of being a weather shut-in.

The church is nearby, but the roads are icy; the tavern is farther away, but I shall walk very carefully.

— Fred Ketteman, Seattle

Make it work

What is the city thinking? So we are saving the environment by not letting salt run into Puget Sound. The Sound is saltwater and has a lot less salinity than the ocean due to the freshwater runoff.

Ask the guys at Bangor who submerge in the Sound; they will tell you. Salt probably will be the most benign thing we will ever dump into the Sound, ever.

The consequences of this policy are devastating. Emergency/fire crews cannot respond, mail is not delivered, garbage is not picked up, people cannot get to work, buses don’t run, caregivers cannot get to those they care for and people cannot shop.

This policy has to change. The mayor and City Council’s job is to make our city work.

— Chris Warner, Seattle

We are not salmon

Former Mayor Paul Schell lost his job because of his gross misjudgement of WTO [World Trade Organization]; Mayor Greg Nickels might see his job in jeopardy for putting the welfare of Puget Sound salmon above the need of the people of the community he leads to be able to move about.

— Wight Reade, Seattle

Chill out

I applaud the city’s policy of not using salt on the roads.

The East Coast has already made a mess of a lot of their local environments, but maybe we will be able to avoid that outcome. Salt is not only harmful to the Sound, but it also damages the soil’s ability to grow plants. It is also corrosive to everything metal, including your car.

We have very little and infrequent snow in this area and I think most residents can manage to survive a few inconveniences in their daily lives once every five or 10 years. Take a break and try to remember why you are here on Earth.

— Elizabeth Erickson, Seattle

Makes total sense

Let me get this straight: the city of Seattle refuses to use salt on the roads for fear that it might pollute Puget Sound, which is a body of saltwater.

— Dick Dickinson, Seattle

Lean on each other

I applaud the city of Seattle’s choice not to use salt on our roadways. We do not need to add to the burden of the Puget Sound ecosystem, upon which we all rely, for our transient convenience.

Everyone with a passing knowledge of Seattle weather knows that we get snow almost every year and heavy snow every 10 years or so. This weather is no surprise and we have had days of warnings.

A reasonable person will have prepared for this with, at a minimum, tire chains, a full tank of gas and a few days worth of extra food. A well-prepared person will have an all-wheel-drive vehicle because they are not only better on snow but also on wet pavement, which we get a few times per year, too.

We live in an urban environment and also within neighborhoods, so with a little extra effort and concern for our neighbors, we should all be able to feed and care for ourselves and each other.

Perhaps this is an inconvenience, but tolerable. The snow is not going to stay and things will be back to normal soon. No need to panic.

This inconvenience has everyone in a tizzy and calling for greater expenditures for snow plows, chemical and salt for the roads. What we should be doing is helping each other to get through this. Shop locally instead of driving to Costco or a mall. Car pool to work.

We certainly do not need to poison the environment to mitigate a minor, transient inconvenience.

— David Gill, Seattle

Don’t sacrifice your car

In your front-page story you attempt to minimize the environmental impacts from the use of salt on the roads, and it is considerable.

I am less concerned with the environment as I am with the condition of my car. Salt will rot a car’s body and undercarriage in an incredibly fast and destructive manner.

Ask anyone who lives where salt is used on the roads.

Cars thus rendered old and useless before their time quickly become piles of junk in wrecking yards, where even the parts cannot be recycled. There’s your environmental impact.

Most years, we have no snow and usually in the years when we do it is gone in a day or two. I for one won’t care how bare the streets will become from the use of salt. I won’t be driving my car on any road thus treated until it is thoroughly washed away.

— Marshall Dunlap, Kent

Be warned

Our recent small snowstorm has unveiled how weak and fragile our city’s infrastructure systems are. Yes, the recent winter storms that came through our region are very unusual and have caused major chaos for the area. But compared with the other larger cities in the East Coast in which I’ve lived, this event is not that big of a deal for the winter season.

I agree with all of the contributing writers and the stories regarding all of the issues we are faced with. This storm is not considered a “real emergency,” but what if the city were faced with real natural disasters, or a “real emergency?” We have only one freeway [Interstate 5] to get in and out of the city.

Not using salt to de-ice the road? What about sand that will end up in our water and drainage systems that will cause serious damage to the systems?

Seattle, we all need to re-evaluate and adjust our infrastructure and be prepared for real emergencies that can be devastating to our livelihoods.

And to all the city officials and the mayor, shame on all of you.

— Joseph Woo, Mercer Island

Sending the bill to you

Seattle’s snow-removal policies have now incapacitated our city for seven days. To think that using salt in this one incident is going to cause any type of measurable harm is nothing short of lunacy.

The lack of leadership and willingness to be flexible during “The December Storm” staggers the mind.

Shall we bill you, Mayor Greg Nickels, for the lost wages, accidents and lack of retail sales that have resulted from your inability to make an intelligent decision that would protect our city and offer basic services?

I am talking about some reasonable thinking in this one extraordinary situation.

It is a shame that our leadership has not shown the ability to step up and demonstrate “extraordinary” thinking in this case. The price tag on this to our city is rising as we speak.

— Janet Engel, Seattle

Calling all authorities

For 18 years, I have been using Metro as my main means of transportation. For 18 years, I have yet to see a planned, organized response to winter snows. It seems it is always improvised from year to year with nobody taking the time or effort to learn from the past.

King County Executive Ron Sims is supposed to be the head of Metro. In all of his time in office he has shown no leadership in planning for these sorts of disasters. It is clear that the current series of days of collapsing bus service falls on him and his lack of leadership.

I would hope that somebody in Metro would call a conference of appropriate authorities, including riders, and plan for different response levels to Seattle winter storms.

This plan would include reallocation of resources, a way of educating the public of those plans, and finding a means to keep riders informed of the situation.

But given the level of customer service on fair-weather days, I doubt it will ever happen until somebody replaces Sims and shows some appropriate leadership.

— Don Carter, Seattle

Comments | More in Public safety, Seattle, Seattle City Council


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