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Transportation agencies are ready for winter weather, urge public to be prepared

Press Release
As the holiday season approaches, Portland area transportation agencies advise the public to take steps today to prepare for potential snow, ice and other severe weather conditions.
Published
Updated
Group photo of transportation agency officials ready for winter November 2023

Commissioner Mingus Mapps and PBOT Director Millicent Williams gathered with leading transportation agencies on Friday at Albina Yard, part of PBOT's emergency response headquarters. They were joined by Andy Poncé, Division Chief of Emergency Operations and Rick Graves, Public Information Officer, both with Portland Fire & Rescue. Photo by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT).

(Nov. 17, 2023) As the holiday season approaches, Portland Transportation Commissioner Mingus Mapps, Transportation Director Millicent Williams and regional transportation agencies advise the public to take steps today to prepare for the potential snow, ice and other severe weather conditions that winter may bring.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) hosted an annual winter preparedness news conference on Friday morning. Agencies gathered at PBOT's Albina Yard, part of the agency's emergency response headquarters, to discuss how they prepare each fall for winter weather and what the traveling public needs to do to be prepared.

Leaders from PBOT, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), TriMet, and the Washington State Department of Transportation were on hand to discuss what the agencies do to keep people safe when winter weather strikes.

"Thank you to all the crews from PBOT and our partners who work night and day, in winter storms, so the rest of us can get home safe," Commissioner Mapps said. "We also need the public's help. Even with a mild winter in the forecast, we could still have several days of snow this winter. Make a plan today for how you and your family can wait out a storm. Be ready to stay home and stay off the roads, so our PBOT crews can do their job."  

"In winter weather, PBOT crews are the first responders for the first responders: We make roads passable for TriMet buses, as well as police, firefighters and others," Director Williams said. "We update our routes every year to make sure we are plowing streets that provide access to hospitals and to emergency shelters. We need Portlanders to be winter ready too. Even in an El Niño year, it’s crucial that all Portlanders prepare themselves for winter emergencies. Take responsibility now to make a plan for snow and ice, to to keep your family safe." 

PBOT encourages everyone to make plans for severe weather today. View preparedness tips and resources at Portland.gov/winter

Get to know the Winter Weather Center, which has maps of PBOT snow and ice routes, maps with links to traffic cameras and maps showing areas at high elevation (500 feet or 1,000 feet above sea level). During snow and ice events, it includes live images of snowplows and other winter response trucks on city streets, as well as weather forecast and road closure information.

ODOT is prepared

ODOT advises the public to get ready for winter conditions and visit tripcheck.com for the latest on road conditions, chain restrictions, and other winter travel information on state highways and interstates.

"ODOT is prepared for winter weather conditions and will do our best to keep the roadways as clear and safe as our resources allow, but to be successful we also need you to do your part," said Rian Windsheimer, ODOR Region 1 manager for the Portland area. "Be prepared, plan ahead, and avoid traveling during winter storms if at all possible."

TriMet is prepared

TriMet reviews its winter weather procedures every fall, learning from the past to plan and execute winter weather operations. This year, TriMet will have more equipment on hand to help keep buses and trains moving and clear areas of ice. But when there's snow on the ground and buses are chained, service will slow. TriMet encourages riders to watch forecasts, dress warmly in reflective clothing and plan ahead by signing up now for service alerts at trimet.org/alerts.

"We at TriMet stay prepared by planning for severe weather early," TriMet's Executive Director of Transportation Operations Inessa Vitko said. "When snow and ice are in the forecast, we have employees who spring into action before the start of service, checking high-elevation routes and reporting back on conditions. We thank our frontline employees for helping us to get ahead of the storm and keeping us moving safely when snow starts to fall. They are our greatest asset when there’s the threat of severe weather—and all year round."

WSDOT is prepared

WSDOT crews are prepped for winter weather, but we also need the public’s help by being prepared for winter weather driving conditions.

  • Be prepared for possible delays and ensure you carry winter travel gear.
  • Stay informed. Check weather and conditions before you leave and during travel – never check from behind the wheel. Use WSODT’s many tools to keep informed of conditions and any possible closures or alerts. People can receive real-time travel information via the WSDOT mobile app, or by visiting our real-time travel map.
  • Practice patience – even if you don’t see them, our crews are out clearing roadways during storms. Our crews take great pride in their work and often live in the areas that they service throughout the state.
  • If you’re unsure about your winter driving skills or your vehicle’s performance, consider postponing travel until conditions improve.

“WSDOT crews are ready to serve Vancouver and Southwest Washington communities in partnership with our Portland and ODOT maintenance teams,” said Trisha Cummins, WSDOT Highway Maintenance Supervisor. “We ask that travelers help us by having their vehicles prepared for winter weather and drive to the conditions of the road.”

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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 portland.gov/transportation