Snowed in? In Portland, 90 percent of streets will never get plowed

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A dozen officials from the city of Portland called an emergency press conference on Saturday afternoon with an urgent plea to the public: Please Stay Home.

But plenty of residents don't have a choice, such as doctors, nurses and essential government and corporate employees.

People who venture onto the streets will find miles and miles of streets covered with snow and coated with ice that will never be treated or plowed.

Portland's Bureau of Transportation, or PBOT, has staff working around-the-clock to plow and sand the city's major arterials.

The city uses 55 plows to treat 518 lane miles out of approximately 4,000 lane miles citywide. These are considered high-priority corridors necessary for emergency vehicles, buses, and transit.

Meanwhile, Oregon's Department of Transportation plows, sands and de-ices highways in the metro area, including Interstate 5, Highway 217, and Highway 99W.

The director of the Portland Transportation Bureau acknowledged the city's plows won't ever touch the vast majority of streets, including residential streets.

"We simply don't have the resources to get into neighborhoods. We only have 55 plows. We focus on arterials so the police and fire can get where they need to go," said Leah Treat, PBOT's director.

City Commissioner Steve Novick pointed out residents would pay higher taxes if PBOT bought more plows and hired more employees to plow more roadways.

"I think we're doing a great job keeping the main roads clear enough so transit buses can get through and emergency vehicles can get through," said city commissioner Steve Novick.

PBOT posted a map showing the plow routes on its website.

The City of Beaverton plows approximately 10 percent of its streets, while Washington County plows around 25 percent, according to officials.