Island County sets snowy road policy

Motorists should plan now for winter road driving. Island County does not normally experience a lot of snowfall.

“When it does, it is a hazard that can be seen, recognized, and precautions taken against it by changing driving habits and by the use of appropriate snow tires or traction devices,” said Bill Oakes, Island County Public Works director.

He described black ice represents “an invisible hazard.” It is extremely hard to predict when and where black ice will form. Heavy frost on windshields is an indication that a similar frost coating may also exist on roadway surfaces.

“Motorists should be aware that even sanding has limited benefits on black ice and the sand can quickly be blown off the surface by traffic and/or high winds,” Oakes said.

Motorists are encouraged to take what steps they can to provide for safe driving during the winter season which will soon be upon us, such as providing traction snow tires for their vehicles.

To provide the maximum level of service and safety to the traveling public, the Island County Road Division must work on a priority basis to promote efficiency. Primary attention will be given to clearing school bus/commuter routes, which are generally the principle roadways for both morning and evening travel.

As a rule, Road Department operations will be limited to the hours of 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. during weekdays, unless extreme conditions warrant otherwise. Weekend and holiday operations will be on an emergency basis only.

In view of Oak Harbor’s density and traffic volumes, the Oak Harbor supervisor may elect to commence operations one hour earlier – and all supervisors may similarly elect to do so on the first working day following a weekend or holiday.

Principal plat roads are to be plowed/sanded only as time permits.

“Because of the steepness and danger involved, some roads may not be plowed nor sanded. Sanding material may be provided to the community at convenient and accessible locations for their use on said steep roads, Oakes said.

Loaded snow removal trucks may weigh up to 20 tons each and are vulnerable to snow/icy road conditions, especially on grades in excess of 8 percent. This, coupled with typical conditions in residential communities, such as roadsides, driveway parking, children playing, sharp curves, proximity of homes to the road, no escape routes or recovery areas for drivers, and short periods of daylight, are part of the basis for not providing service to communities with excessively steep access roads.

Following are some county roads that may not be plowed. Note that the list is not all-inclusive; sanding/plowing may not be performed on other steep plat roads not included on the list, depending on the severity of weather and time availability:


Bercot Road (hill portion)

Widarama Beach Widarama Place

Shangri-La Shores Arbor Drive, Pullman Road, Roberts Bluff Road

Dines Point Fir Street, Maple Street

Lagoon Point Mountain View Road

Bush Point View Road, High Road


Possession Shores No. 4 Nation Drive

Scatchet Head Gamble Street


Monticello (from West Camano to top of hill)

Woodland Beach Woodland Beach Road

Camp Comfort Hill Street

Pebble Beach Pebble Beach Road

Wilkes Gary Heights Wilkes Gary Road

Tyee Beach Shoreline Promenade, Beach Way

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