Spot roadway debris or trucks losing their loads? Here’s what to do

This week, we explain how to report junk on state highways, as well as how officials enforce the law requiring truck drivers to keep their loads securely fastened.

Driving on state highways should not feel like a game of dodging roadway debris or flying rocks from trucks.

Below is how you can report debris on freeways, as well as how officials enforce the law requiring drivers to securely fasten their loads, after a couple of people contacted Traffic Lab looking for answers.

Q: Who is responsible for cleaning up debris on roadways, such as Highway 520, Interstate 5 and access ramps? Is it the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) or is it the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)? I’m never sure which agency to contact about debris.

— Marsha Donaldson, Hawthorne Hills

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A. Not SDOT.

The state department’s maintenance crews are in charge of keeping highways and access ramps clear of debris and roadkill throughout the metro area. They patrol for messes and respond to drivers’ reports by region, WSDOT spokeswoman Harmony Weinberg said.

The agency’s incident-response teams, which clean up collisions, keep an eye out for extra wreckage, too.

Each of WSDOT’s crews have different phone numbers for reporting issues by area, all of which WSDOT lists on its website. For the Seattle metro, it’s 425-739-3730.

Those numbers, however, are only for nonemergencies, or debris that does not pose immediate safety threats.

For those urgent matters, call 911.

WSDOT’s Traffic Management Centers, which function as the agency’s “nerve center” for incoming and outgoing traffic information, handle those calls.

The average number of them per month varies, Weinberg said, sometimes depending on the weather.

“If it hasn’t rained for a while, more stuff and sludge is on the roadway,” she said. “We get more calls.”

Staff at WSDOT’s Traffic Management Centers coordinate with the maintenance crews to prioritize reports of debris by their level of safety threat. Then, staff send technicians to areas for cleanup, Weinberg said.

“We really do appreciate when people call in with the things they see,” she said. “We can’t be everywhere all the time.”

To alert SDOT crews of debris on city streets, call 206-684-7623 or take a picture of it with your phone for submitting through the city’s “Read the full article from the Source…

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