WSDOT accuses Kittitas County of ‘misinformation’ on snow removal dispute

Jan 14, 2022, 6:04 AM
snow removal...
The view from inside the truck as crews work to clear lanes of snow and ice on the mountain passes. (Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Twitter)

The arguing between the state and Kittitas County over last week’s snow removal has ratcheted up, with the head of the Washington State Department of Transportation basically saying the county is lying about what happened.

Kittitas County says WSDOT refused help for clearing snow over lack of vaccine mandate

Kittitas County went public this week, criticizing WSDOT for refusing its help to clear the record snow from the mountain passes over the county’s lack of a vaccine mandate for workers. County commissioners, like Laura Osiadacz, said the state was putting its politics ahead of public safety.

“Kittitas County was fully aware that the state of Washington was not going to be happy with us, but we also truly believe that if public safety is at risk, people that are effected need to know why,” she told me.

The county said it offered help to clear the passes on Jan. 11, which was two days after Snoqualmie Pass had actually reopened. That’s something that Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar pointed out to the Senate Transportation Committee last night.

“They approached us on Tuesday, and it’s important to note that Snoqualmie Pass opened on Sunday, and their concern was, ‘Why are you hiring a contractor to do that work? We could do it,'” Millar said. “We hired a contractor to do that work because they were able to declare that their employees were vaccinated.”

WSDOT head tells legislature vaccine mandate had no impact on recent pass closures

Millar called the entire Kittitas County complaint “false information.” He said it had nothing to do with vaccine mandates or public safety, but rather was about losing a $40,000 job to a private contractor.

“This was never about the county reaching out to help clear Interstate 90 or any of the four passes that were closed,” he said.

The timeline favors the state’s recounting of events, but the war of words and accusations continues. The fighting over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and snow removal will continue until the snow stops falling.

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WSDOT accuses Kittitas County of ‘misinformation’ on snow removal dispute