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Friday May 6th
Inclement Weather
City of Oregon City

Oregon City Public Works Responds to Snow and Ice Events. When cold weather arrives, Oregon City Public Works is ready with all the necessary tools, capable of a full scale response.


Our toolbox is full of goodies for winter weather response.  We have added a second de-icer distributor, de-icer storage that exceeds 5000 gallons (more than doubling the amount of de-icer we needed in the 2008 winter storm event), and an additional large plow rig. We also have better than ever winter weather staff training and response plans.

For a mid-size city, Oregon City is well equipped for winter weather response with four plows, three sanders, a road grader, and the two de-icer distributors.

For more information on Oregon City’s winter weather response including de-icer details, our philosophy on the use of sand in a snow event, and our winter weather response map, check out our Winter Weather Response Map below.






As part of the City's our overall goal to improve the safety of Oregon City’s motorists during snow and ice storm events, the City's Street Division will use a number of strategies to address the changing conditions that often occur during our winter weather storm events.  Our crews will again be utilizing liquid de-icer as part of its overall response efforts, in addition to plowing and in some instances, the application of sand.


It is the goal of the City of Oregon City to respond in a reasonable manner to snowy and icy city streets to allow vehicle travel by motorists, exercising due care, in the operation of a motor vehicle.  However, City crews cannot always assure safe vehicle operation on city streets under extremely hazardous winter conditions.  As experienced during this past winter's events, when extremely hazardous conditions exist, it may be necessary for drivers to use traction devices or seek other transportation alternatives.


Remember, even the best preventive measures don’t eliminate the risk involved with driving in winter weather conditions. It is always up to motorists to drive at speeds and in a manner appropriate for the road and weather conditions



Our de-icing efforts will focus on the light to moderate snowfall events, as well as the occasional black ice or frost conditions typical for the Oregon City area.  Utilizing liquid de-icer allows the Street Division to improve safety, improve the efficiency of City crews, and address environmental conditions resulting from other methods of winter operations. The Street Division's goal is to apply the least amount of de-icer and sand needed to maintain a safe driving surface for Oregon City travelers.


How will de-icer be used?

Liquid de-icer is applied to the roadway in order to lower the freezing temperature of water and to prevent ice and snow from forming a bond to the roadway surface. The type of de-icer Oregon City is using is called Magnesium Chloride. This product is currently in use by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Clackamas County, and the Cities of West Linn, Happy Valley, and Canby as well as many other jurisdictions in Oregon and Washington. ODOT has been safely using this product for over 10 years.


This product contains 70% water, magnesium chloride, and a corrosion inhibitor to reduce impacts to vehicles. This product can cause corrosion if equipment is exposed for an extended period; however, it is highly water-soluble and a quick rinse will dilute and clean vehicles easily. This product works well at cold temperatures, is inexpensive and is safer on the environment than traditional methods.


Winter de-icer can be used in several ways including:

·                     A pre-application that helps prevent snow and ice from forming/sticking to street surfaces.

·                     To melt accumulated snow and ice on street surfaces.

·                     In conjunction with sand to help the sand stick and stay in place on icy street surfaces.


Areas targeted for de-icer will focus first on arterial streets (Molalla Avenue, Meyers Road, South End Road, etc.), then collector streets (Main Street, Partlow Road, Clairmont Way, etc.), then steeper residential streets. Snow and ice response seldom target residential streets unless the event lasts over an extended period of time (1 week).


What is the advantage of using de-icer?

One advantage of de-icer is that liquid de-icer can be applied to the roadway a few hours before a severe weather event occurs, which prevents ice crystals from bonding to the pavement. As pavement is kept from freezing, crews can keep key streets ready for traffic rather than responding after Oregon City’s road conditions have become dangerous for motorists.


De-icer may also be applied in conjunction with sand under some conditions. The application of de-icer on snow or ice with significant accumulation helps keep the snow loose and “plowable” so it can be removed more easily. The City will use a variety of treatments and techniques to control snow and ice at different times and places throughout Oregon City. A great advantage is that liquid de-icer will help to improve conditions over sanding alone.

Another advantage is that many other jurisdictions that use winter de-icer have had reductions in wintertime vehicle crashes. Additionally, the de-icing product can be less expensive than sanding and is expected to reduce the amount of time spent plowing, sanding, and cleaning up sand after storm events.


How much snow has to fall before the City responds?

Typically our crews respond when we are reasonably sure that freezing conditions or snow accumulation is likely. Depending upon the forecast and other reports, our crews may apply de-icer in a pre-emptive manner to lessen the impact on drivers, or respond as needed as the cold weather event unfolds. Typically we begin to plow snow as it accumulates to 1” or above.


Why won’t the City clear the snow berm off my driveway while plowing?

The City has insufficient resources to enable the removal of driveway berms that are created when crews clear the street.  Our main objective is to make the majority of our streets passable and safe for motorists.


Does the City apply sand as a way to help motorists get traction while driving?

In some rare cases when our de-icer may not be as effective as we would like. If this happens, our crews apply sand on steep hills, corners and intersections as an additional measure to improve traction. However, due to the environmental concerns and the fact that sand typically is blown off or worn off these areas easily, we typically keep sand application at a minimum.


If needed, OCPW will also plow snow and in some cases, close steeper streets when there are safety concerns. Remember, even the best preventive measures don’t eliminate risk. It is always up to motorists to drive at speeds appropriate for the road and weather conditions.