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Snowy weather delays trash pick up for multiple days across western Washington

Unsafe road conditions following recent snowstorms have continued to delay trash services across western Washington.

SEATTLE — Trash collection services resumed in parts of western Washington Tuesday as snow and ice melted but some areas continued waiting due to what waste management companies said were continued unsafe conditions on the roads.

In King County, trash collection services are split among contracts with several different companies. One of them, Recology, said they were able to resume most of their normal routes but still had some issues in Bothell and Maple Valley Tuesday and Shoreline was challenging as well.

“Patience is key,” said Recology Operations Manager Anthony Brocato. “This is a very difficult time for our drivers and they do a phenomenal job when they're out there. One of the challenges they have and a lot of people don't realize, is that until they get tons of trash or recycling in the back of their truck they don't have a lot of weight coming down on their axles there. It's very easy to slide around and the margin for error as they're coming in to collect cans on the side of the road, especially in our more urban areas, sometimes you only have a couple of inches between both cans on the street.”

Driver Kelly Elliott experiences those challenges firsthand.

“The problem with that is momentum,” Elliott said. “Just because we can go down a street doesn't mean we can stop in front of each can and start again. Our part involves coming up to each can, coming to a stop, our tires are coming up to ice, making a little cup, then we lose our momentum and can't keep going.”

Despite only driving in areas that looked clear and with chains on his vehicle, Elliot said he got stuck and had to be helped by three other drivers.

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According to Brocato, Recology is monitoring conditions into the night with hopes of resuming whenever it’s safely possible.

“We plan to catch up as quickly as possible in our cities,” Brocato said. “Bothell, Maple Valley have been some of our challenging areas, Shoreline as well, but with the rains coming in and temperatures above freezing, we're out until one in the morning assessing the roads and getting information out to our drivers.”

Gerry Lumansoc, a Shoreline resident, said his neighborhood received updates from Recology about what to expect.

“They did say they're not going to be able to pick it up last week and we had a message yesterday. Yesterday was the pickup day and they said 'Oh, we're coming Tuesday.', which is today,” Lumansoc said.

Lumansoc said he wasn’t surprised based on the weather conditions he saw in his area over the past week.

“It was icy here, it was really icy. The road was not doable with my two-wheel drive, even the front wheel drive has a hard time coming up,” Lumansoc said. “We can live with [delays], for safety reasons.”

Still, Lumansoc said he was glad to see the trucks make their way through the neighborhood Tuesday.

Recology said it tried to resume service in Maple Valley Monday but trucks slid and got stuck. 

Download the KING 5 app to check the interactive radar near you, as well as the latest forecast, cameras and current conditions.

Currently, Recology has established a temporary drop-off collection site at Lake Wilderness Park where Maple Valley residential customers may drop off waste accumulated during the service delay at no charge. In addition, impacted customers may place out an equivalent amount of material as would have been collected during the service delay on their next regularly scheduled collection day at no charge. More information about make-up collection and tips for storing waste can be found on Recology's Maple Valley website. 

Another collection company, Waste Management said the challenges continued Tuesday as sudden freezes forced them to cancel residential service in parts of southern King County including Auburn, Federal Way, Pacific, Enumclaw, Ravensdale and unincorporated areas.

“We are currently working on recovery plans and are updating the WM websiteWM website as information becomes available,” a spokesperson wrote. “Just scroll through to the community you are looking for and click on Service Alerts.”

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