From Susan Kelleher's front-page editorial in today's Seattle Times:
The icy streets are the result of Seattle's refusal to use salt, an effective ice-buster used by the state Department of Transportation and cities accustomed to dealing with heavy winter snows.... By ruling out salt and some of the chemicals routinely used by snowbound cities, Seattle has embraced a less-effective strategy for clearing roads, namely sand sprinkled on top of snowpack along major arterials, and a chemical de-icer that is effective when temperatures are below 32 degrees.
And why does the city refuse to use salt and other chemicals on its roads? Back to the Seattle Times:
"If we were using salt, you'd see patches of bare road because salt is very effective," [said Alex Wiggins, chief of staff for the Seattle Department of Transportation]. "We decided not to utilize salt because it's not a healthy addition to Puget Sound."
From the introduction to the "Failing Our Sound" special report published by the Seattle Times way back in May of 2008:
Despite all we've learned about Puget Sound over the years, and all the promises we keep making to do better, we haven't met the challenge.
The Sound is by no means dead. By some measures it's cleaner and healthier than it was 30 years ago. Yet that progress is at risk because we're still betraying Puget Sound with the choices we make...
The "Failing Our Sound" series focused on development, not snowy streets, but in May the Seattle Times called for developers, homeowners, and our local elected officials to make sacrifices to protect the health of Puget Sound. Today the Seattle Times is howling at the city for pausing to consider the health of Puget Sound in the wake of this week's snowstorm.
So which is it, Seattle Times? Make sacrifices to protect Puget Sound? Or to hell with Puget Sound—dump salt and chemicals on our streets every time it snows? Was Frank's commute in from Mercer Island really that bad?