An employee shortage with the WSDOT could make winter travel extremely hazardous for Eastern WA drivers.
As pandemic staffing issues continue to plague not only, retail businesses, restaurants, and agencies, but also WSDOT has been affected. WSDOT staff is down 300 employees, from 1,500 to 1,200.
Drivers should be prepared for possible closures and delays as crews work to clear highways of snow. Some roadways may not see the same level of service they've had in the past.
What does this mean?
According to the WSDOT Blog:
Some roads and passes will be closed longer than normal during and after significant storms.
Some roads will not get the same level of service, may be only plowed minimally or will have snow and ice on the roadway for longer periods of time. Some areas may not be staffed 24/7.
Especially during large storms or long-lasting ones, we won't have a deep enough "bench" of staff to respond 24/7 for several days throughout the storm.
Some lanes of the freeway system may have snow and ice while crews focus on keeping just one or two lanes open.
Lower speed limits in areas with variable speed limits.
There may be slower responses to crashes and other emergencies, and it may take longer to clear major crashes or slide-offs.
Less attention to secondary routes and recreation areas as crews focus on higher priority roadways.
What can you do?
Be prepared. Your vehicle should be winterized before you go. Have a winter travel kit, and stay informed of travel conditions.