Whatcom County Public Works (WCPW) has launched a new online tool for residents that shows active construction projects and snow routes called the County Travel Planner; it includes an interactive map so travelers can plan their routes. This is especially important because COVID-19 could impact the department’s winter operations if a major storm hits.
COVID-19 has affected the department’s winter operations by limiting its ability to hire and train new employees, and for new employees to obtain the commercial driver license (CDL) and training needed to drive snow and ice equipment.
For the 2020-2021 winter season, WCPW will have about 18 field crew operating snow and ice equipment. In a more typical year, there would be around 28 field crew operating snow and ice equipment. Safety is always the department's highest priority. It is vital that new employees receive equipment-specific training and proper licenses before operating snow removal equipment. Operations could be further restricted if employees must quarantine or isolate due to infection.
“We are working to get more employees hired and trained as quickly as possible,” said Jon Hutchings, Whatcom County Public Works Director. “We are asking people to plan ahead, be patient, and stay safe. Roadway snow and ice removal may not happen as quickly, or on as many roads simultaneously, until we are fully staffed.”
Links to the new County Travel Planner interactive map, as well as a copy of the snow and ice policy, and a list of frequently asked questions are available at www.whatcomcounty.us/winteroperations.