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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 4, 2009 at 8:15 AM

Seattle snow



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Steve Ringman/ The Seattle Times

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels answered criticisms regarding the city’s handling of the recent snow storms.

Change it all

Editor, The Times:

The mayor’s admission that “mistakes” had been made handling of the snowstorm doesn’t really mean much [“Licking political wounds, Nickels revises salt policy,” Times, page one, Jan. 1].

Thousands of people missed work for a week because the streets were too risky to tempt. Sand works OK in really cold weather but now we have dirty sand beaches along the street median and gutters.

This shock-and-avoidance reaction the city uses for major snow removal only illustrates the real cause of the problem: Seattle misappropriates and underfunds its basic street maintenance and repair.

This major city has miles of residential streets with no sidewalks and only ditches for drainage. Money is wasted adding traffic-intersection islands when the rest of the planet uses stop signs. Curb-cuts at crosswalks are constantly being relocated a few feet while street curbs are being moved out to eliminate badly needed public parking spaces.

Most residential streets never get a monthly street cleaner along its debris-filled gutters because the city doesn’t do that.

And then there’s our wonderful hamster-wheel traffic-light system. It’s time to abandon the historic technology and get all major traffic signals throughout town linked to a computer-controlled traffic-management system. Hitting a red light every couple blocks will finally become a thing of the past. Imagine what it would do for rush hour.

It’s always amazed me how badly Seattle city streets are maintained. After the snowstorm, it became even more apparent that many streets are nothing but potholes; simply patching them again is no fix.

We need leaders who recognize that basic transportation needs are a priority and come before any new grand projects short on funding.

–David Wright, Seattle

Be better than the cat

Seattle has become like my cat — meowey-whining to “make it stop raining” or snowing, or change whatever weather she doesn’t like [“Seattle City Council wannabes will need to stick to the basics,” Joni Balter, editorial column, Jan. 1]. She assumes I’m all-powerful and that I can fix it. I don’t expect her to know better — but you would think Seattleites would.

Seattle has snow like we had in December once in about every 40 years. I’m a 44-year-old native and I don’t remember anything like it. So why should I want our city government to stock up on salt and snowplows and emergency equipment so they can deal with that kind of event? It’s a complete waste of city money. The equipment will be obsolete before it will be needed again.

The city should use the money for other things — that is, real problems.

Seattle doesn’t use salt because it harms the health of Puget Sound. Sure, Seattleites can be “green” all day (when it involves shopping at REI or attending a fancy auction-bash to benefit environmental causes), but god forbid that environmentalism should involve personal sacrifice. To heck with the environment if it might involve me missing a day of work or having to walk to the grocery store.

Next time it snows I sure hope the people of Seattle can do better than my cat. But my hopes aren’t all that high.

— Isabel D’Ambrosia, Seattle

Life goes on

We live in rural New England and visit family in Shoreline every January. Although there is much here that we admire and love, this winter’s snowstorm — or rather the aftermath, has made us appreciate our dreary, cold New England winters.

In our small Western Massachusetts town, property owners must shovel their sidewalks in a timely manner or face steep fines. Although our winters are long and admittedly bitter, people still walk and even bike into the town center, pushing their carts and umbrella strollers, shop, stand at cleared bus stops and meet for coffee to complain about the weather.

The towns don’t use salt; no one is allowed to use chains. Instead, everyone abides by a few simple common agreements to get us through the winter together: Keep $20 snow shovels handy near your walks and garage; shovel early and often; move your car for the plows or expect to be ticketed and towed.

— Mia Kim and Michael Sullivan, Northampton, Mass.

Keep the salt on the dinner table

Stand firm, Mayor Greg Nickels. Don’t let the sniveling unprepared Seattle city folk sway your commitment to “not using salt” on Seattle streets.

Any person living in the Greater Seattle environs with at least one good eye and one good ear should have been prepared for the recent snowstorm. The newspapers, radio and TV stations gave all of us early and fair warning on what to expect.

If we were not prepared it was not your fault. There is no need to heed their plaintive cry to salt the streets. I am sure none of the complainants are willing to pay more city taxes in order to meet their demands. Stand firm sir, you salty dog, do not let the grouchy and grousers pour salt in your wounds.

By the way, I was stuck in the snow for three days — no complaints from me. It was my fault.

— LeRoy Loiselle, Seattle

Hats off to you

When we make the list of lifesaving heroes of our recent stormy weather, Metro Access and Hopelink deserve to be at the top.

In good weather, almost half of Northwest Kidney Centers’ 1,100 dialysis patients arrive for treatment via one of these services that provide transportation for those who cannot drive or ride the bus.

Patients come three times a week for dialysis treatments that clean impurities from their blood, remove extra fluid and balance minerals. Normal kidneys do that job for most of us 24/7. Missing even a single dialysis appointment can be life-threatening, which makes the transit system a vital link.

When snow and ice packed the roads these past two weeks, transportation became even more important to our lifesaving mission. Road conditions discouraged most drivers. However, Access and Hopelink responded with creativity in their quest to transport our patients every single day of the week to their greatly needed treatments.

They braved the snow from 6 a.m. until late in the evening, juggled schedules nonstop, and transported hundreds of patients for life-sustaining dialysis under trying conditions.

On behalf of our patients who have placed their lives in our hands, our hats are off to Metro Access and Hopelink.

— Joyce Jackson, Seattle

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