The city of Tacoma is gearing up for winter with snow plow operator trainings that will put plows on city streets this weekend and next.
“We train in October to get out in front of the weather,” assistant street division manager Matt Fengler said. “You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you.”
On Saturday afternoon and again on Oct. 19, Tacoma residents can expect to see plows on the heavily trafficked priority routes that are outlined by the city’s snow and ice map.
Training in good weather allows operators to familiarize themselves with Tacoma roadways before a blanket of snow covers potentially hazardous landscaping.
Operators will learn to rig the emergency snow response vehicles, then go out and drive the snow routes in order to become familiar with navigating heavily equipped plows through traffic.
They will also learn the ins and outs of salting and sanding, duties that may start as soon as next week if temperatures drop and roads become icy.
This is the first year that trainees will be from outside of the city’s street operations division. Due to understaffing, the division asked for help from other city departments and received responses from 30 workers in Tacoma Water and the city’s environmental services department.
Training sessions are held on weekends every year to allow plow operators to perform their usual duties during normal work hours. They receive overtime pay for the training.
The city’s snow response plan calls for plowing only 412 of the 855 miles of Tacoma roads, so residents must also take part in snow safety efforts.
Tacoma officials advise residents to start preparing now by equipping vehicles with good tires and windshield wipers; becoming familiar with the city’s prioritized routes so they can plan trips during icy weather; and, for those who live on prioritized routes, finding places to park that will not interfere with plow operations.
Eva Revear: 253-597-8670