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Freezing temperatures continue overnight, falling trees keep roads closed in central Puget Sound tonight

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Date:  Thursday, January 19, 2012

Contact: Bart Treece, WSDOT communications, 206-440-4788 (Shoreline)

SHORELINE – The snow and ice are moving out of the Puget Sound and the debris left behind is the story now. Maintenance crews for the Washington State Department of Transportation are busy clearing roads of slush and snow tonight.

A significant band of snow moved through King and Pierce counties during the peak evening commute creating a tricky drive home. Dozens of cars slid on state highways and interstates tying up traffic at critical interchanges. Hours after the snow moved through, Washington State Patrol and WSDOT crews were still mopping up after collisions.

Heavy snow and icy temperatures brought down trees across Puget Sound, creating a safety concern for both WSDOT workers and drivers.

“The same ice storm that’s left so many people without power tonight also brought hundreds of trees down across our roads,” said Dave McCormick, regional maintenance manager for WSDOT. “We can’t open these roads until they’re safe.”

As of 9 p.m.,
• State Route 18 remains closed in both directions from I-5 to SR 167 and from SR 164 to I-90. The road is open between SR 167 and SR 164 in Auburn. Weyerhaeuser Way is open. Crews will assess the situation at first light and work to clear trees from the 22 mile section. Crews expect the road to be open sometime tomorrow.
• State Route 202 remains closed overnight between Fall City and Snoqualmie. The area was especially dangerous due to the number of trees. Crews left the area mid-day to wait for safer conditions. Crews will assess the situation at first light. Currently, there is no estimate on when it will reopen.
• State Route 410 remains closed between SR 164 and Greenwater, about 14 miles west of Crystal Mountain. “We were able to get everyone out of Crystal who wanted to go,” said McCormick. Crews with experience cutting trees headed south to help crews in the area. Tomorrow will be spent cutting and moving trees.
• SR 900 remains closed at May Valley Road.
• The ice storm also cut power to cameras and in-road sensors on I-90 and I-5. The power remains out.

“Tonight we will be clearing the roads and preparing for whatever is next” said McCormick. The National Weather Service forecasts a warming trend with melting snow.

Know before you go
• WSDOT offers several ways to get up-to-date weather, traffic and construction information before hitting the road.
• Carry chains and know the traction and chain requirements.
• Call 511. WSDOT’s driver information phone line provides real-time traffic, incident and closure information. Out-of-state callers can dial 1-800-695-ROAD (7623). TTY users can call 1-800-833-6388.
• Sign up for email updates and social media tools such as Facebook.
• Follow us on Twitter - @wsdot, @wsdot_traffic, @wsdot_passes, @wsdot_tacoma, @SnoqualmiePass.

On the road
• Overhead and roadside electronic signs provide emergency and incident alerts and point-to-point travel times in some Seattle-area locations during rush hours. Use roadside travel time signs to help judge the time to reach your destination.
• Highway advisory radios allow drivers to hear updates when the flashing lights along the highway are activated. Program 530 AM and 1610 AM on your radio before you leave and tune in when signs are flashing.
• Ask a passenger to use one of the many Mobile Applications available.

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