Side streets and sidewalks keeping drivers and pedestrians on their toes

SEATTLE -- By the middle of the day Tuesday the sun came out, melting some trouble spots but many side streets and sidewalks remained icy.

Some spots in Capitol Hill looked like an obstacle course for pedestrians.

“I slipped twice,” Gabriel Blancaflor said.

Blancaflor is talking about the sidewalk by Denny and Melrose, and he wasn’t alone.

Q13 News watched as several people either slipped or fell. Many said no to the sidewalk and just walked on the street itself.

“I fell and there was a car coming out of a small garage. I don’t think he saw me because I was low on my bottom now and I just stuck my foot out before almost getting run over by his tires,” Blancaflor said.

The main streets were in good shape on Tuesday as SDOT crews made it a priority to de-ice main arteries repeatedly.

But side streets were a completely different story, making it hard for many to leave their driveways Tuesday morning.

Streets like Latona Ave NE in Wallingford, a street that usually carries buses, was iced over for most of the day. Q13 News witnessed a truck fishtailing and getting stuck in the middle of the street because of the conditions Tuesday morning.

“The worst spots I’ve seen is definitely curves and down hills,” Seattle resident Steph Hirsch said.

Q13 News asked SDOT why they don’t treat neighborhood side streets.

“In order for us to do the side streets we would have 200, 300 plows. It doesn’t snow enough to warrant that kind of capital investment which would be around $26 million,” Rodney Maxie with SDOT said.

SDOT says since snow is rare in Seattle, asking for millions more for extra trucks and tow cars is not a prudent way to spend taxpayer dollars.

“No major cities in Northwest treats side streets,” Maxie said.

So what does SDOT think about its own performance?

“We don’t give grades,” Maxie said.

But the city says their crews are giving it their all.

“They’ve been giving maximum effort,” Maxie said.

“I will give them a B+, because I like living here in Seattle, for the amount of snow that Seattle gets per year it’s pretty forgivable of what’s going on,” Hirsch said.

But others say the city needs to do better.

“I would give them a D-. It’s bad, it’s really bad. Someone could really hurt themselves,” Blancaflor said.

Q13 News alerted SDOT about the treacherous sidewalk and the department addressed it immediately and cleared the sidewalk.

Technically that stretch of sidewalk does not belong to the city. It belongs to landlords who own the buildings adjacent to the sidewalk. Homeowners and business owners are supposed to clear their own sidewalks.

But in cases where there is a public hazard or danger SDOT says they want to know about it.

The department says citizens can call them or alert them about dangerous sidewalks through the Find It, Fix It app.