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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

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Winter Weather Travel Advisory: PBOT urges public to use caution this weekend, releases initial impressions of road salt test, stats from three days of severe conditions

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(Jan. 13, 2016) The Portland Bureau of Transportation advises the traveling public to expect continued challenging travel conditions this weekend. The National Weather Service has also warned the City of Portland to expect the possibility of severe flooding in the Johnson Creek area by the afternoon hours of Tuesday Jan. 17.

Since the afternoon of Tuesday Jan. 10, PBOT crews have been working 24 hours a day to clear the city’s 518 miles of plow routes, which cover critical routes for hospitals, police and other first responders and public transit service. Continued freezing temperatures, including a record low 11 degrees early Friday morning, refroze many streets that had previously thawed. PBOT equipment can only plow down to 1 inch above the street surface. PBOT crews attempt to rough up the surface and apply gravel in critical places to provide traction, but slick areas may linger through the weekend, until temperatures rise and rain clears the streets. People driving or biking are urged to use caution.

Everyone is urged to continue to clear sidewalks adjacent their home or business, as required by city code.

PBOT’s plowing has cut the number of road closures by two-thirds and made many roads passable in severe subfreezing conditions. Earlier in the week, the City of Portland had up to 25 road closures. With plowing and continued de-icing, that number was reduced to eight closures by 2 p.m. on Friday.

The City’s 518 miles of designated plow routes make up about 26 percent of city streets, as measured by the centerline distance from one point to another on a given street. That does not account for the multiple lanes on city streets.

PBOT snowplows, service vehicles and deicing trucks make multiple passes on each street to clear snow from all the travel lanes. Including multiple passes on the many lanes on the routes, these vehicles drove more than 6,000 miles in aggregate since Tuesday afternoon.

Working in conjunction with the Seattle Department of Transportation crews, PBOT conducted a test of road salt in three locations Thursday afternoon: SW Terwilliger between SW Sam Jackson Park Road and SW Capitol Highway; SW Broadway between West Burnside and Interstate 405; and N Going Street from Interstate, west on the N Lagoon Ave-Dolphin Ave-Channel Ave loop on Swan Island. The Seattle road crews applied road salt in one lane and PBOT crews applied Portland's standard liquid de-icer in the lane to the left of the Seattle crew.

In the initial assessment, the effect of the road salt was limited and did not provide significant improvement compared with the bureau’s standard de-icer. Since this experiment was limited in both duration and the number of locations, PBOT will continue to look for opportunities to assess alternative treatment options, including road salt, in the future.

PBOT is very grateful to the Seattle Department of Transportation for the opportunity to conduct this test. The exchange of technical and professional expertise that occurred between the two agencies is sure to be valuable in developing responses for future severe weather events in the northwest.

Public agencies requested towing of 251 abandoned vehicles

 Tows requested by public agencies between 6 p.m. Jan 10 and 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 13, 2016.

Chart of towed vehicles by agencies

To locate your vehicle that may have been towed in Portland, call Police Auto Records at 503-823-0044.


The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at