Whatcom County Public Works (WCPW) is charged with safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively maintaining reliable access to the County’s road system. In order to do this during winter months, WCPW has long-established guidelines for coordinated snow and ice removal on all of the 960 miles of county-maintained roads. Each road is given a priority level, 1, 2, 3, or 4. Road plowing and sanding are prioritized based on factors like how much traffic a road receives, if it is a transit or school route, if the road has emergency facilities like police and fire stations, and other similar criteria. This means that service on low-priority level 3 and 4 roads may be significantly reduced during and after severe snowfall, ice storms, and other winter weather.
Residents are encouraged to prepare in advance for winter storms and stay home for their safety until roads are cleared and safe. The unique climate of Whatcom County can cause extreme weather in one area and relatively no impact in another. Residents should not assume the conditions at their location represent the conditions of the county as a whole.
Priority Level 1 (PL1): Highest Priority. These are major arterial and collector roads that Public Works considers high volume. These roads may include bus routes. (See priority routes on attached map)
Priority Level 2 (PL2): Normally, secondary paved roads serve a functional need for public access, like fire, safety, public transit, or school, but have less traffic overall than Priority 1 roads.
Priority Level 3 (PL3): Low-traffic volume roads that may include milk routes or roads leading to higher-density housing areas. **
** If a Priority Level 3 road is used by a school district or Whatcom Transit Authority as a recognized bus route, it may be maintained at the same level as a Priority 2 road on in-person school days.