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Even with light snowfall predicted, Arlington prepares for hard winter

ARLINGTON — Although a much lighter level of snowfall has been predicted for this winter, the city of Arlington is still prepared in case it becomes a repeat of last winter, when the three-day weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day turned into a full week's worth of snow-days for many Arlington residents.

Arlington Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield acknowledged that more than 400 staff hours were directly connected to the city's response to that snowstorm alone, as even water service and distribution specialists for the city were pulled off their regular duties to help clean up the thick accumulations of slush left behind, well after that snow finally stopped falling and started melting.

"Our city staff coordinated their 12-hour shifts to include their normal eight-hour workdays, so we were able to keep the number of overtime hours to a minimum," said Banfield, who explained that the city of Arlington established priorities in order to enhance public safety and make efficient use of its available resources.

Just as the primary snow routes — which included hospitals, schools and hills — were plowed and sanded before the city moved onto clearing its secondary streets and preparing for flooding issues, so too does the city plan to deal with any significant snowfall this winter by first tackling its busiest streets, which connect the city's neighborhoods to one another and to the state highways.

Among the city's other primary snow and ice removal routes are the streets used most frequently by public safety agencies, as well as the streets that are important to public institutions such as hospitals and schools, and the streets used by transit agencies. Non-arterial streets are not a primary priority for the city, but Banfield noted that city staff strive to address those routes as their time and equipment permits.

State highways that fall outside of Arlington's primary snow and ice removal routes are maintained by the Washington State Department of Transportation, just as streets outside the city limits of Arlington are maintained by other agencies. While city backhoes were hauled out last winter to remove veritable mountains of unmelted snow from Olympic Avenue and the side-streets of downtown Arlington last winter, the residents and storefront owners of Arlington's main street were still faced with the task of making their portions of the sidewalk accessible to pedestrians.

"We have 162 lane-miles in the city," said Banfield, who added that the city of Arlington does not maintain private driveways. "Of course, some roads are plowed and sanded constantly, such as the main arterials and primary snow routes, before we start sanding and snow removal on the secondary routes and residential streets."

To assist the city Public Works Department's efforts in the event of a future snowstorm, Arlington citizens are advised to remember the following tips:

• If you're experiencing a life safety emergency, call 911.

• Property owners are asked to maintain all the sidewalks abutting their property in a clean, non-slippery fashion, free of leaves, ice and snow.

• Whenever possible, please assist the Public Works Department by clearing catch-basins and snow-covered fire hydrants adjacent to your property.

• Snow-shoveling can be very strenuous, so work at a comfortable pace for your health.

Following severe storms, the city will only pick up tree limbs and debris from trees that block city streets, since it does not have the resources to remove fallen tree limbs and brush from private property.

A map of the city of Arlington's snow and ice removal routes can be found online at www.arlingtonwa.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=4365.

For more information, visit the city of Arlington website at www.arlingtonwa.gov.

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