Cold Weather Street Maintenance

Contact Information
Street Maintenance
3555 NE 2nd Street
Renton, WA 98056

Winter Weather Preparations:  Overview

  • Cold weather updates

Go behind the scenes as the city's street maintenance crews prepare for winter weather. 

Winter Preparations: Plow Shifts

Public Work Street Maintenance Supervisor John Kalmbach explains how the city uses a system of four staggered shifts to keep plows on the roads 24 hours a day.

Winter Preparations: Shoveling Driveways and Sidewalks


Public Work Street Maintenance Manager Patrick Zellner has helpful tips for shoveling snow from your driveway and sidewalk.


Before snowfall lands on cold streets, city crews stand ready to apply anti-icer to prevent snow from sticking, making it easier to plow.

Priority Routes

Priority routes are arterials, secondary arterials and collectors, bridges, schools, hospitals and fire stations and are first to be pre-treated with anti-icer to help keep ice and snow from bonding to the pavement, allowing quicker snow removal through plowing. Trucks are assigned to a specific location in the city and follow a priority mapping system for that area.

High Volume Areas

Streets that receive a high volume of traffic such as NE 4th, Sunset, Benson, Talbot, Carr Road, school routes and the main access roads to Renton Hill and West Hill are first priority for anti-icer pre-treating plowing and sanding. During peak commute hours, these streets receive the most attention because sand dissipates quickly on well-traveled roads. Secondary arterials such as Union and Duvall are plowed and sanded next and the residential areas receive attention when the primary and secondary routes are completed. During severe weather conditions, high priority areas are sanded approximately four times during a 24-hour period.


The emergency entrances to Valley Medical Center and Group Health are maintained by city crews and are a first priority during snowfall. Crews carefully document each street after it has been plowed and sanded, recording the date, time and condition. These vehicles are also equipped with GPS tracking.

Problem Areas

Problem areas that are called in by police, citizens, or other city departments are handled by priority and truck availability.

Impacts on Collections

Road conditions may also impact garbage, recycling and yard waste collection routes in Renton. Hauler trucks are heavy and the City and contractors are concerned with public safety. Find out more information about winter weather impacts on garbage, recycling, and yard waste collection service.

Be Cautious

City crews do an excellent job of keeping the streets of Renton sanded for residents. Many accidents are caused by excessive speed for the road conditions. It is important for citizens to be cautious at all times, as road conditions can change quickly and drivers must beware.

In extreme conditions, you are advised to travel only in a situation that is urgent or an emergency. If you see a city snow plow or de-icer truck, please stay back and clear.

Renton Ready: The Numbers

The City of Renton has 318 centerline miles and 753 lane miles of streets and rights of way (2022). The Street Maintenance Division is responsible for sweeping and cleaning the city streets, mowing rights-of-way, repairing city streets and sidewalks, overseeing the street overlay projects, and preparing to respond to emergencies such as snow/ice winter operations, flooding, and wind events.

Equipment and Supplies

The city has nine (9) sanders, 11 trucks with plows, and three (3) anti-icer applicator trucks. All sanders, plows, and deicer trucks are loaded and tested annually in October. The operators and our fleet maintenance mechanics will complete any issues or repairs.

The three (3) anti-icing applicator trucks carry 1,600, 300, and 150 gallons. The 1,600-gallon truck is specifically for multi-lane main arterials, and the smaller trucks are for secondaries and neighborhoods.

In storage tanks, the city has 9,500 gallons of liquid anti-icer, Freezgard CI Plus (Magnesium Chloride with corrosion inhibitor). The city's vendor is ready if more is needed during a storm.

Approximately 800 tons of road salt, over 1,500 tons of sand, and 400 tons of a sand/salt mix of 50%-50% is on hand.


The street division has 17 street maintenance workers, one (1) night sweeper (emergency responder) operator, and three (3) solid waste workers. Formal training sessions are held annually and cover winter operations anti-icing/plowing procedures.

All drivers study their route maps and drive their respective routes to look for potential hazards or obstructions. Renton's streets look completely different when covered in snow. This route pre-check helps prevent plow and truck damage when plowing begins.

Plowing Regions

The city is divided into five plowing regions. Plow trucks are distributed as evenly as possible, based on hills, major arterials, priority locations, and routes. The priority snow routes are main, secondary arterials and collectors, bridges, schools, hospitals and fire stations, and bus routes.

Many of these major routes will be re-treated with anti-icer as soon as the city knows an event is imminent. This helps keep ice and snow from bonding to the pavement and allows quicker snow removal through plowing.

(updated: 9/26/22)

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