News, TRANSPORTATION, Washington County

County says staff shortage may slow snowplow response times

A shortage of road crew staff working for Washington County may result in longer plowing times, the county said. 

In a December 2 email, Washington County Land Use and Transportation said the department’s road crew staff was down by about 25%. 

Because of this, plowing and sanding county-maintained roads could take longer. 

Locally, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) plows state Highways 6, 26, and 47.

The shortage, the department said, was a nationwide trend for transportation agencies.

When a winter storm strikes, the county plans to tackle priority routes—major corridors and routes used most often by emergency services—first.

In rural northwestern Washington County, priority routes include Timber Road starting from Glenwood through Timber and to the Columbia County line, and Gales Creek Road starting in Forest Grove from WIllamina Ave all the way to ODOT’s Highway 6 in Gales Creek. 

Kansas City Road, Kemper Road, Greenville Road and others are also among those routes.

Secondary routes—Banks Road, Buxton’s Fischer Road and Bacona Road, Manning’s Sell Road and Woollen Road, Mountaindale Road and Dairy Creek Road, and Hillside Road among them—don’t have the same level of urgency assigned to them. 

A full map of county road priority levels for plowing and ice control routes can be found here

“Though we may not be able to match the level of service that we’ve achieved in the past, we are prepared to work around the clock to clear and sand roads,” said Keith Lewis, Operations Superintendent.

The county said that crews had prepared for the winter season by driving snowplows on priority routes this November. 

“We ask travelers to be patient and take precautions if they must use the roads during wintery conditions,” said Todd Watkins, Operations and Maintenance Division Manager. “Our crews will be hard at work.”

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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