Transportation officials: Staff shortages expected this winter

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Local transportation agencies met this morning to discuss their winter preparedness plans — and say they are struggling to keep their departments staffed.

Officials from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet and the Washington State Department of Transportation laid out their plans for keeping people safe once winter weather hits. Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Portland Community Safety Transition Director Mike Myers joined, as well.

“We are expecting staff shortages this winter for a variety of reasons,” ODOT’s Ted Miller explained during the press conference. “That means you might not receive the level of service we and you have come to expect to provide.”

Both ODOT and WSDOT are asking drivers to be patient with them in case their road crews can not respond to every incident this winter. Leaders also gave their normal reminders about slowing down, keeping your distance and making sure your car has working wipers and headlights.

Officials also say if snow starts falling fast this winter — stay home and let crews plow streets before going out.

In Washington County, officials are anticipating possible delays obtaining materials — such as anti-icing agent — but a spokesperson for the county said they have enough deicer for four full applications for all Washington County roads.

This means that the county could cover four significant ice events.

Washington County also increased its deicer capacity by 30% since last year, according to a county official.

Although it’s a bit too soon to get a full picture of what kind of conditions we’re expecting this winter, KOIN 6 News Meteorologist Kelley Bayern says there is a chance for some inclement weather.

For the second winter in a row, La Niña conditions are expected to persist through February 2022 and bring impacts to precipitation and temperature across our region. 

La Niña winters can produce significant snowstorms in Portland, and second-year La Niña winters tend to produce double the amount of normal snow. With that, it’s possible we will see measurable snow this winter — or in other words, at least one snow event that will put city operations on pause. Portland could see above-normal snow this season.

For our full 2021-2021 winter outlook, click here.

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