Budget Cuts Could Slow Snow/Ice Response in Unincorporated King County

King County residents should be prepared for travel delays and develop backup plans if heavy snow prevents travel.

Editor's note: The following comes from a King County news release.


King County road crews are ready for snow. Salt, sand and anti-icing agents have been stockpiled at road maintenance yards throughout the county. Plows and sanders have been prepped and crews have been given their road clearing assignments.

For the second consecutive season, a declining budget to care for unincorporated roads will mean less available staffing for storm response. That means some roads may be plowed and sanded less often depending on the severity of the storm.

Prioritizing snow removal

Priorities for snow and ice removal include heavily traveled roads and routes used by Metro Transit buses. In general, snow response will occur in the following order of priority:

  • Major roads such as key arterials and main thoroughfares connecting densely populated areas
  • Smaller roadways that carry traffic from local streets to arterial roadways connecting towns and cities
  • Secondary commuter routes that are considered important connectors to the county’s larger network of roads

During minor localized snow events, crews will be shifted from non-affected areas to help keep roads clear. But during a significant regional snowstorm, the shifting of county forces may not be possible.

Stockpiles and equipment topped up and ready to go

This season, the Road Services Division will have material and equipment stockpiled at nine field offices throughout the county. Supplies and equipment include:

  • 12,000 cubic yards of sand
  • 38,000 gallons of anti-icing material
  • 50 pieces of snow removal equipment, including 28 trucks equipped for sanding and plowing

During significant snowstorms, crews will be placed on 12-hour shifts to provide around-the-clock response in unincorporated areas. Six road workers will once again work overnight shifts this winter to respond to snow, ice and other road problems.

King County’s snow plan covers about 1,300 miles of roadway connecting cities, suburban and rural areas—a number that has changed very little in recent years despite annexations.  

Given the potential for reduced road clearing, residents should be prepared for travel delays and develop backup plans if heavy snow prevents travel. For instance, consider working a flexible schedule, telecommuting or postponing your trip, if possible. You can also monitor storm-related road closures in unincorporated areas when you sign up for King County Road Alerts.

For more information about the Road Services Division’s snow and ice plan, visit:



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