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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 6, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Storm postmortem

Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

Seattle City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen, left, and Tim Burgess listen to Seattle Department of Transportation Director Grace Crunican answer questions during a meeting to review the city’s reaction to the recent snowstorm.

The snowball rolls downhill

Editor, The Times:

Seattle’s machinations over last month’s winter weather continue to make headlines [“City roads chief gets icy reception,” Times, News, Jan. 6]. Your readers, however, should be wondering whether Seattle’s elected officials are taking a reasoned approach or whether The Times is stirring the pot. Along with tales of the most recent national financial rip-off, attempts at a bailout and congressional political infighting, it would be encouraging to know we’re a bit more rational.

We should be asking what level of snow and ice “response” is appropriate and affordable.

Mayor Greg Nickels’ decision to renew use of salt during such storms seemed abrupt. Would it have made much difference for these storms? The City Council’s investigation, reported in The Times, appears to be an attempt to place blame for an act of God. Didn’t other jurisdictions in the region witness the same storms with similar difficulties? Isn’t Spokane, with more experience with these conditions, still buried?

The storms were sensational in a devastating way, coming at an inopportune time for the holiday season. But, if they were an anomaly and we’re unwilling to spend the money for “a plow on every street,” elected officials should simply make sure city staff is asking, “What did we learn and how can we improve our response next time?”

— Martin Nizlek, Bellevue

Low-salt diet preferred

With temperatures dropping again, it’s as good of time as any to tell Mayor Greg Nickels (and the rest of Seattle) that using salt on the road is a bad idea. It’s corrosive.

You saw how dirty your car looked after driving through the snow. Imagine that instead of a mixture of dirt and sand, it is salt, slowly eating away the finish on your car. There is no way you are going to wash your car in this weather, so that salt will be encrusted for some time, exposing areas that will begin to rust when the snow does melt.

The effectiveness of the current plows has been extensively debated, but what about salt? Rock salt lowers the freezing point of water only1-3 degrees. With the temperatures we had during our winter storm, this solution would be only partially effective

— Micki Ream, Seattle

Slip-sliding away:

post-storm bike hazards

In the wake of recent snowstorms, the city of Seattle scattered sand on the streets. This has created hazardous conditions for cyclists. The loose sand presents a braking problem, particularly on steep hills for bicycle commuters.

On some roads, the loose sand together with debris that emerged from the snow covers the right shoulder, leaving cyclists little choice but to go out into the center or the right-hand side of the lane, increasing the chances of a possible collision with an oncoming car.

If the city has made a mess, it should to clean it up. We should call on our public officials to sweep the streets clean for the New Year.

— Ruth Wilson, Seattle

Comments | More in Public safety, Seattle City Council

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