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Local area braces for more cold weather

Compact snow and ice on SR 410 made driving treacherous -
Compact snow and ice on SR 410 made driving treacherous
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By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

The New Year swept in on the tails of the most fierce snow storm Bonney Lake and the surrounding areas have seen in many years. Both traffic accidents and kids sledding down hills increased dramatically during the first few days of 2004.

The edge of the storm hit during the night of Dec. 30. The morning of New Year's Eve saw state Route 410 covered with compact snow and ice, trucks and cars in the ditch. Sand Hill Road, 214th Avenue East and Church Lake Road were closed with four stranded cars along the road.

East Pierce Fire & Rescue reported the volume of calls more than doubled when the snow started falling. The incidents included a house fire in the Wilkeson area, a car fire on SR 410 and a baby delivered in an ambulance on the way to the hospital on New Year's Day.

And that was just beginning of what was to come.

"Looks like we're in for an old-time winter," Paul Marsh, Pierce County road operations superintendent, said. "The county has over 30 trucks and four graders trying to get the ice and snow off the roads."

New Year's Day came with snow on the ground, temperatures hovering around freezing and more snow to come. That night, Sand Hill Road was again closed, along with the Lake Tapps Parkway and Elhi Hill between Sumner and Bonney Lake.

Friday night and Saturday the snow fell in force, six to eight inches reported in Bonney Lake. By nightfall, temperatures dropped to the low 20s and driving became a treacherous task.

Elhi Hill was closed again for several hours Saturday evening while county crews worked to sand and de-ice the highway. The road reopened by 11 p.m.

Marsh said the county has been using a de-icing agent for the last two years that has helped the crews deal with the extreme conditions.

"The deicer is a gelled salt brine that is environmentally friendly," Marsh said 'It's much better than road salt as a preventative and for melting the ice. They put it out in furrows and the tires spread it out. It's melts the compact snow and ice, prevents it from icing up again and the rain washes it away."

County crews are working around the clock with employees putting in 12-hour shifts.

Bonney Lake Mayor Bob Young said his city crews were well prepared and out in force along the road. "We just ask our citizens to be careful and slow down. Leave plenty of room."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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