Sanding, De-icing, and Plowing

Snowy RoadEver wonder why there is sand applied to the roads in some areas when it gets icy, yet not in other areas?  While we send out sanders for icy conditions on roadways, we are not able to sand every mile of county road in Jackson County – over 900 miles currently.  Therefore, we focus our attention where the worst hazards exist which tend to be the steep hills, sharp curves, bridges and other known problem areas.  It is rare when we sand a straight section of road.  We also use a combination of sand and cinders in many areas to get the best traction for our money.  Sadly, we can’t sand ahead of time – it just gets blown and beaten off the road and won’t be where it needs to be when the ice forms.  By the way, please don’t follow a sander too close – the sand being applied can bounce on the road and end up where nobody wants it to go such as on a car or windshield.  Our protocol is to turn off the sander when we meet an oncoming vehicle to minimize the risk of damage.

You may have heard a lot of information about de-icers, salt and the like.  We currently use a limited amount of de-icer (Magnesium Chloride) applied in a few specific areas under certain conditions to help with freezing hazards.  Currently, the Oregon Department of Transportation assists us in applying the product as their schedule allows.  This product is primarily beneficial because it can be applied ahead of time.  We are continuing to work with other partners in evaluating other solutions which are cost-effective and make a substantial difference in winter driving safety.

Another big and noticeable activity is plowing snow.  Did you know we typically don’t start plowing until two inches of snow is on the ground?  Plowing when there is less snow on the ground does almost no good, yet grinds plow blades off faster than anything else.  Small quantities of snow (even though the road is white) can’t be plowed effectively and the hazard is minimal if caution is used when driving.  Up in the higher country significant amounts of snow can fall and our plows will sometimes come by multiple times a day to clear the latest snowfall.  If trees are falling and especially if power lines are down we sometimes have to wait for additional crews to show up before the plowing can continue.  Rest assured we are doing the best we can with the conditions coming at us.

If you live in the higher elevation areas you may already know we do not plow individual driveways.  Time doesn’t allow anything close to individual driveway attention to be attempted.  Instead our plows cast the snow to the side of the road – individual homeowners are responsible for clearing their driveway.

What about the mailbox which doesn’t withstand the snow being plowed?  Please rest assured our plow drivers are not trying to knock over mailboxes – they have much more important things to be focused on.  If our equipment actually strikes your mailbox we will repair it – this is our responsibility to make right (usually within 48 hours).  However, mailbox installations are the responsibility of the property owner, and mailboxes and their supports should be maintained in a condition to withstand the force of side-cast snow and gravel.  If your mailbox gets pushed over, without being struck, plan on fixing it up as part of your property maintenance.  We do try to keep access available to all mailboxes so the mail can get through, however if snow conditions do not allow us to clear the snow adequately it is ultimately the property owners responsibility to ensure their mailbox can be accessed by the Postal Service.

If you have questions about our procedures or practices please let us know.  We are here to help through snow, ice, wind, fog, sleet, and hail.  You can call us at 541.774.8184 or email us at