PORTLAND – City officials urged people in the Portland Metro Area to stay home rather than try to brave hazardous conditions as snow turned to freezing rain Saturday.
City commissioners Steve Novick and Nick Fish were joined by officials from the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, TriMet and other utility companies at a “State of the City” afternoon press conference Saturday afternoon.
Fish urged those who drive to use caution, especially when traveling through neighborhood streets. He brought his own son with him to illustrate that children are likely sledding and playing in neighborhood snow.
He also urged Portlanders to be good neighbors. Fish said people should knock on the doors and check on seniors and people with disabilities in their neighborhood.
Novick said the city has been working diligently to clear arterial roadways with 55 plows and some 300 city workers laying down de-icer and sand. So far, ODOT said it has laid down 100,000 gallons of de-icer.
ODOT also said it deployed sets of gang plows that drive down highways and interstates in sets of 2 to 10 clearing snow from one side of the road to the other. So far in Portland, West Burnside and Sam Jackson Park Road are the only streets that require chains. The City of Salem, however, is requiring all drivers to have chains or traction tires.
Watch: Gang plows operated on Oregon roadways
Mary Fetsch from TriMet said safety is the primary concern for the transportation agency. Half as many routes are running on Saturday and delays are widespread across the city. She said MAX trains continue to run throughout the night in order to stop ice and snow from accumulating on tracks and overhead lines.
A TriMet bus also served as an emergency warming shelter Friday night as Firefighters and non-profit agencies worked to help the city’s homeless population. Anyone who knows someone who needs assistance finding a warming shelter was asked to call 211.
Utility officials warned that freezing rain often knocks out power. Anyone who spots a downed line was urged to stay clear and call PGE to report any hot wires.
Bottom line, officials said conditions are treacherous and they urged everyone in the Portland Metro Area to stay home and wait for the weekend storm to pass. Temperatures should warm up by Monday.