Snow fell, Bothell workers racked up overtime

The approximately 25 inches of snow that fell on Bothell between Dec. 12-31 was the most the city has seen, unofficially, in up to 40 years, according to city Public Works Director Doug Jacobson.

Cost of OT was around $80,000

The approximately 25 inches of snow that fell on Bothell between Dec. 12-31 was the most the city has seen, unofficially, in up to 40 years, according to city Public Works Director Doug Jacobson.

Speaking before City Council Jan. 6, Jacobson presented a detailed report on the city’s response to the wintery attack.

Overall, Jacobson stated he feels the city did a decent job of battling the elements, but also outlined several areas of concern.

Jacobson said his department’s 30 employees spent 19 days working 24 hours a day in 12-hour shifts. Of the 30 staffers, four are administrators, meaning 26 employees were available to directly hit the streets.

All in all, workers put in some 3,700 hours during the storms, including 1,600 hours of overtime. Cost of that overtime was estimated at $80,000.

In the course of fighting the snow, as previously reported, the city used some 10,000 gallons of liquid de-icer, 300 tons of sand and roughly 5,000 pounds of salt. They replaced tire chains on city work vehicles every two days. Cost of the various materials and equipment: somewhere between another $80,000 and $90,000.

In terms of the effectiveness of the city’s efforts, the most significant council questions may have revolved around Bothell’s plowing — or lack of plowing — on city sidestreets. Jacobson admitted many neighborhood streets did not see a plow prior to Dec. 20.

“We just couldn’t get off the priority routes,” he said.

For purposes of clearing snow, officials have divided Bothell’s main streets into three tiers. Main roadways receiving the most immediate attention cover some 70 miles. Second-tier streets stretch 10 miles, while third-tier roads cover five miles. The vast majority of the city’s roadways were termed by Jacobson as neighborhood streets and comprise some 275 miles.

Mayor Mark Lamb said those neighborhood streets not only suffered from a lack of plowing, but said plows servicing the main streets often created a wall of snow at the end of the smaller roadways. Jacobson said at the height of the storms, plow drivers simply did not have time to go back and clear intersections of heaped-up snow. There was some discussion of buying additional plows to follow main trucks, but Jacobson said the issue becomes determining how much money the city wants to invest in equipment it may use only rarely.

According to Jacobson other challenges presented by the recent weather included what proved to be a scarcity of supplies. For example, the city used 10,000 gallons of de-icer, but only has the capacity to store 7,500 gallons. Because the storms hit around the Christmas holidays, Jacobson added some of the city’s normal suppliers just weren’t open for business.

At one point, Jacobson stated all that de-icer worked well on fresh snow, but did little to melt packed-down snow and ice. Other issues involved upkeep of equipment that was running basically around the clock and better communication with the public. In the aftermath of the storms, Jacobson said his department will concentrate on cleaning up all the sand it dumped on snow-covered roads, an effort that could take four or five weeks. He also said the city has an overabundance of potholes that need addressing.

Finally, Jacobson said passing snow plows and other side effects from the storms took their toll on the raised, plastic lane markers — or “road turtles” — that run down many Bothell streets. Jacobson said the city may or may not have the money to replace all that were destroyed during the storm.

For the most part, City Council members seemed satisfied with the city’s response to the recent weather. Councilman Bill Evans said Bothell seemed to do a better job than many surrounding communities.

“It wasn’t perfect,” Evans said of Bothell’s response to the crisis, but he added the city did well under the circumstances.