Snow Plowing Priority Routes During snow events, Spokane County crews work in 12-hour shifts around the clock to ensure the entire 2,527 road system is plowed. Snow Plow Priority Routes Map.
Submit an email request for road maintenances services here: Email Request
Winter Road Maintenance Snow Procedures
Winter is a challenging time for the Road Department, due to weather conditions which can change quickly and many major decisions must be made quickly with little information. When we are in a full snow removal campaign, we spend approximately $85,000 per day. Daily routine decisions are made by the district supervisors and foremen during the week. They have certain routes they check which gives them an indication of the road conditions.
Usually, when two to four inches of snow have fallen, we plow. This is enough to create bad driving conditions and it should be plowed to avoid compact snow and ice conditions that require constant sanding. When we plow, we try to cut to the pavement floor. All of our decisions are based on the predicted effect on our arterials and on the hills. Flat residentials are not plowed with two to four inches unless there are two inches or more of snow accumulated from a previous snow. In all cases, we make a separate decision whether or not we will plow residential areas.
During the winter months all four of our maintenance districts have an early morning and evening shift to assist our day crews. Their main responsibility is sanding and de-icing but they do plow if they have time. We maintain the capability to work overtime and provide 24 hour coverage if weather events dictate.
Our primary snow removal fleet consists of 34 graders, 26 sander/plows, 4 liquid deicers and
Sanding is a constant effort, in an average winter season we use about 18,000 cubic yards of sand and 800 tons of salt, mixing 75 pounds of salt per one cubic yard of sand. This is enough salt to help keep the pile thawed and to slightly melt the ice so the sand can set.
We also use liquid deicer in our snow operations. This has proven to be a very effective tool in our program. We pre-treat roads when we are expecting heavy frost, black ice and a snow event. Liquid deicer is also used on compact snow floors to loosen the snow and break the bond of the frozen snow to the asphalt or concrete road. This procedure enables our plow trucks to do a cleaner job during plowing operations. Liquid deicer is used on primary arterials, secondary arterials, main roads going into hillside residential areas and ‘hot spots’ that cause us problems. When temperatures are dropping below twenty degrees the liquid deicer is not effective and sand has to be used.
Drifting conditions can occur simultaneously in one or several areas in the County and it is not always obvious this is occurring from downtown. Snow type, wind speed, direction and condition can affect drifting. We try to keep all roads open if possible but when it gets bad, we concentrate on arterials and do other roads on an emergency basis. We are usually busy for several days after drifting has occurred by widening roads and knocking down snow banks. We do have two rotary snow blowers, one self-propelled and one that mounts on the front of a loader, to help in drifting conditions.
Our sanders and liquid deicer trucks are assigned to areas and within each area there are routes, which cover the priorities and “hot spots”. Intersections, hills and curves along arterials are first priority. After that we work on other intersections, hills and curves. A great deal of the sanders’ work is patrolling routes and sanding only if it is required. The Sheriff’s Department and Washington State Patrol have direct communications with our supervisors/foreman and also our sanders. They request sand and de-icing often, especially during weekends and after hours. Be aware that when sanders are on patrol, they may have a plow mounted on the truck but their primary job is to sand and check roads.
Each winter the most common complaint is in regard to plugged driveways. We have a very large mileage of roads to plow and for that reason we use truck plows that can plow snow close to the posted speed limit for that road, unlike a grader that can only travel about 10 mph while plowing snow. Truck plows throw the snow to the side of the road and have no way of keeping snow from piling in front of driveways. In the urban areas, we use graders with wing extensions to plow a wider area and the truck plows but with the large number of driveways, we would never get around to complete our job if we had to clear the snow from each driveway as we passed. Spokane County’s main objective during snow falls are to clear the road of snow and maintain a safe driving condition for the motoring public, “plugged driveways” and mailboxes with snow around them are the property owner’s responsibility to clear. If a citizen states they are handicapped, elderly or have a medical condition, we do try to accommodate them. Calls are screened through our department and those citizens in need of assistance will go on a list for Geiger Corrections crew. Geiger Corrections have a crew to assist us for these conditions and their days do fill up fast during snowy conditions.
Rehabilitation and Preservation Strategies Spokane County maintains 2,527 miles of county roads. These roads consist of 8.93 miles of concrete roads, 162.37 miles of dirt and summer roads, 985.79 miles of gravel roads and 1369.92 miles of oil and paved roads.
The maintenance department is responsible for repairs and maintenance of the road system. Activities include snowplowing, sanding icy roads, street cleaning, filling potholes, resurfacing paved roads, grading and adding gravel to roads, clearing out drainage structures, trimming vegetation along the right-of-way, repairing missing or damaged traffic signs, restoring malfunctioning signals, and other miscellaneous tasks.
Activities are prioritized in a way that address potentially dangerous situations first, followed by regular repairs, then preventive maintenance as funds allow. To read more on the different type of road maintenance activities and the most common issues on Spokane County roads, please visit...
Pavement Management Information:
Road Restrictions Information
Most Common Road Issues
Road Maintenance Activities