Saltless In Seattle

Over the last decade this nation has suffered under the thumb of right-wing ideologues who have, at every opportunity, used the levers of federal power to enact their pipe dreams.  Well, with the election of a Democratic President and massive gains in Congress many liberals no doubt feel “it’s our turn”.  If nothing has been learned from watching the rightwing over-reach these liberals will get their wish and, among other things, we’ll all end up like the beautiful city of Seattle.

Devotion to public schools, bike trails and park access, these are all great things.  But even a good thing can be taken too far, and in Seattle that truth has been manifested in the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Seattle Bus Accident

In order to be able to pat themselves on the back the great leaders of Seattle have abandoned their duty to protect and serve the citizens of their city.  They have decided, due to environmental concerns, that time-tested snow abatement measures were simply too environmentally damaging to the Puget Sound to be used in their city.  What does this means?  Simple, no salt on the roads, no matter what.  Not even if two buses full of school children nearly careen over a cliff onto the interstate as a result or city police are unable to perform their duties because they can’t move their cars.  So what’s their solution?  Hard-pack.

“We’re trying to create a hard-packed surface,” said Alex Wiggins, chief of staff for the Seattle Department of Transportation. “It doesn’t look like anything you’d find in Chicago or New York.”

“If we were using salt, you’d see patches of bare road because salt is very effective,” Wiggins said. “We decided not to utilize salt because it’s not a healthy addition to Puget Sound.”

I’ve lived in the blufflands of western Wisconsin my entire life.  If there’s one thing we’re experts at out here it’s how to handle the snow.  We don’t get tornadoes, or wildfires, or hurricanes.  We get snow. So what happens when you compress snow on a road surface and add a little friction heat?  You get ice, and then you’re royally screwed.

There are only really two effective, and cost effective, measures a government can take to keep the roads safe:  use a salt and dirt mixture to increase traction and melt the ice and then plow vigorously.  Sure this may boost the car wash business while people try to avoid rust-damaging their cars but at least it doesn’t put anyone in the hospital.  So to hear an idiot like Mr. Wiggins putting the safety of his city’s citizens beneath misguided environmental concerns makes my blood boil, as it should yours.

This is what happens when liberal pipe dreams replace conservative ones.  It’s the same old idiocy, just different outcomes.

4 Responses to “Saltless In Seattle”

  1. tas says:

    This is worse than the seemingly now standard excuse cities have for not using salt on the roads: budget reductions. Perhaps the councilpeople of Seattle are trying to package budget reductions as green so they don’t look so cheap…?

  2. Dustin says:

    Given the general issue city’s have been having with acquiring salt (either due to lack of supply available or money issues) that would make sense, and if that’s the case here so be it. But to pass this off as a good thing and to try to claim it’s “for the environment”? No, now we just entered asinine territory.

    Even if this is just political BS spin to try to claim that they’re on top of things and they “have the storm right where they want it”, so to speak, it’s ridiculous.

  3. tas says:

    I agree, it is ridiculous. I want to save the environment too, but we have to work within the confines of our society. Salt is bad, but if we don’t currently have anything to replace it with to keep roads clear… I mean, hardpacking? Give me a break. They might as well just leave slush on the road — in fact, that might be better than hardpacking and thus creating a sheer sheet of ice. But, of course, salt is the best solution environment or not. Humans need to be protected first.

  4. Mark Reyer says:

    I live in Portland. We have the same issues as Seattle. I’ve lived in the East and Midwest and the lame excuses I hear in the Northwest for not using salt just dumbfounds those of us who know better. Like it will kill the vegetation, fish, wildlife, and the list goes on. Funny, we have vegetation, fish, and wildlife back East and in the mid-west. As far as the economics are concerned; the wear and tear chains and studded tires cause to the roads is far more expensive than salt. Not to mention the cost to businesses for closing. Lets not forget, that in Seattle and Portland you may have a need for salt once maybe twice a year. Where I come from it was more like once or twice a week. So how bad can it be for the environment or on the budget?

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