Cold Weather Street Maintenance

Contact Information
Street Maintenance
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.

Winter Prep: The Numbers

The City of Renton has 318 centerline miles and 753 lane miles of streets and rights of way (2021). The Street Maintenance Division is responsible for sweeping, cleaning, and repairing city streets, mowing right-of-ways, repairing city sidewalks, overseeing street overlay projects, and preparing and responding to emergencies such as snow and ice winter events flooding and wind events.

The city has nine sanders, 11 trucks with plows, and three anti-icer applicator trucks. All trucks are loaded and tested annually in October. Any issues or repairs are then completed by the operators and our fleet maintenance mechanics.

The three anti-icing applicator trucks carry 150, 300, 1,600 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 8,000 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 event.

Approximately 400 ton of road salt is on hand and over 1,500 ton of sand, and 400 ton of a 50/50 sand/salt mix.

The division has 15 street maintenance workers, a night sweeper (emergency responder) operator, and two solid waste workers. Formal training sessions are held annually and cover winter operations anti-icing/plowing procedures.

All plow drivers study their route map books and drive their routes to be familiar with what they look like without snow. They look for potential road hazards or obstructions. Renton's streets look completely different when covered in snow. This route precheck helps prevent plow and truck damage when the snow fight begins. The city is divided into five regions, and trucks are distributed as evenly as possible, based on hills, major arterials, priority locations, and routes.

Priority snow routes: main streets and arterials, secondary arterials and collectors, bridges, schools, hospitals, fire stations, and bus routes.

Many of these major routes have been pre-treated with anti-icer when we see an event in the forecast. Pre-treating helps keep ice and snow from bonding to the pavement and allows quicker removal through plowing.

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