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Public Works heading

Common questions

- General road maintenance
- Summer road maintenance
- Winter road response
- Parks


General road maintenance

- How can I report a road maintenance problem?
- Has the county reduced its roadside vegetation trimming?
- What about hazardous trees in the right-of-way?
- When will streets be swept?
- When will roads be striped?
- What about litter pickup?
- Who is responsible for sidewalk repairs?
- Can I get raised pavement markers on my road?
- When will road “buttons” be replaced?
- What should I do if a street light is out in front of my house?
- Why do I sometimes see different colors of spray paint on the road?

How can I report a road maintenance problem?
Call Public Works’ customer service number, (360) 397-2446, or fill out a road maintenance service request.

Has the county reduced its roadside vegetation trimming?
Due to tight budgets, the county has reduced its vegetation budget by about 50 percent. Every effort will be made to trim vegetation where it creates sight distance hazards or other problems. The county also has a limited budget for routine roadside mowing and will concentrate on arterial and collector roads.

What about hazardous trees in the right of way?
Public Works will create a service order and dispatch employees to evaluate the situation. Depending on their assessment, the location will be placed on the county’s ongoing maintenance list.

When will streets be swept?
Street sweeping makes a community look clean and tidy. It also prevents dirt, debris and other contaminants from entering storm drains and reduces the harmful effects of stormwater pollution.

In the past, the county has tried to sweep residential streets every five to six weeks, but budget cuts have reduced the frequency of sweeping to the fall, winter and spring months. Arterials will continue to be swept about once a month, weather permitting. The county coordinates its sweeping schedule with garbage-recycling pickup to avoid conflicts.

With a reduction in service, the county is examining its sweeping routes and schedules. The goal is to create a system so residents know their street will be swept during a specified week. That information will allow them to move vehicles and trim low-hanging branches and vegetation so sweepers can cover the entire street.

Residents should never dump leaves or other yard debris into the street with the expectation that the material will be swept up. Not only has the frequency of street sweeping been reduced, but leaves can clog storm drains, creating flooding problems and traffic hazards. Instead, put leaves and other vegetation into yard debris carts for curbside pickup. Coupons are available during the fall for free leaf disposal at two drop-off locations.

When will roads be striped?
Public Works stripes approximately 1,230 lane miles per year. The county stripes all of its roads at least once a year and its major arterials in urban areas twice a year. Most work is typically done mid-April through October because of weather conditions, but the county can stripe roads year-round, even during freezing weather.

What about litter pickup?
Because of budget cuts and staff reductions, both in maintenance personnel and offender work crews, the county has a limited ability to pick up litter. When receiving a litter request, the county will place it on the service list for attention as staff time and budget allows.

Who is responsible for sidewalk repairs?
Clark County code requires property owners to keep sidewalks abutting their property in "good order and repair." If a sidewalk needing repair is along county property, the work will be added to our repair list.

Can I get raised pavement markers on my road?
Raised pavement markers are typically installed on major and minor arterial roads at the direction of county transportation officials and only in urban areas because snow plows, used more extensively in rural areas, tend to scrape the markers from the road.

When will road “buttons” be replaced?
The work is done as part of normal maintenance on an annual basis, usually April through November, weather permitting.

What should I do about the street light that is out in front of my house?
Street lights in residential developments are maintained by Clark Public Utilities (360) 992-3000). Public Works maintains street lights at intersections with traffic signals.

Why do I sometimes see different colors of spray paint on the road?
Paint is used to mark underground utilities, typically prior to some type of construction, with each color representing a different utility. State law, RCW 19.122.030(3), requires that underground utilities be marked prior to any excavation.


Summer road maintenance

- What is an asphalt overlay?
- What is a chip seal?
- What is a slurry seal?
- What is a cape seal?
- What is base stabilization?

What is an asphalt overlay?
This surface treatment is for structural reinforcement on arterial and collector roads in both urban and rural areas. The depth of an overlay is between 2 and 3 inches. Surface defects and irregularities are repaired prior to adding a new layer of asphalt. In some instances, a thin lift (a 1 inch layer of asphalt) is applied to subdivision or access roads that have surface irregularities but remain structurally sound. This smoothes the surface and corrects some drainage issues. During the overlay process, there are delays to the traveling public.

What is a chip seal?
This surface treatment is applied to rural roads to seal the surface and prevent moisture from infiltrating the road’s subgrade. These roads are structurally sound and do not need reinforcement. Emulsified oil (.45 gallons per square yard) is applied to the road surface, followed by a covering of approximately 20 pounds of crushed rock per square yard of roadway, which is firmly pressed into the surface without further breaking the rock, or chip. The size of the rock, or aggregate, depends on the location of the road and whether a rougher surface is desired for additional traction during inclement weather. The road is closed during treatment, but traffic is usually allowed to return a few minutes after the work is completed.

What is a slurry seal?
This surface treatment is applied to urban roads to prevent moisture from infiltration to the road’s subgrade. These roads are structurally sound and do not need reinforcement. Emulsified oil, crushed aggregate and a curing compound are premixed on a truck and then applied to the road surface. This treatment requires the road be closed for 2 to 4 hours, depending on weather conditions, to allow curing before it can reopen to traffic.

What is a cape seal?
A surface treatment applied to urban roads. This is a two-step process consisting of a chip seal followed by a slurry seal to tie everything together.

What is base stabilization?
A road that requires base stabilization is rough and uneven and needs major structural repair. The existing surface is ground up, and cement is added and mixed to create a new base for the road. The road is then graded, reshaped and rolled, followed by a surface treatment, which can be anything from a chip seal to an asphalt overlay. There are significant motorist delays during this process.


Winter road response

- Which streets will be plowed?
- How do I know which streets will be priorities for clearing?
- What about parking lot and driveway access during snow storms?
- What does the county use to de-ice roads?
- Is salt harmful for the environment and will it rust my car?
- What about the sand and gravel?

Which streets will be plowed?
Clark County is responsible for maintaining 2,665 lane miles, roughly the driving distance between Vancouver and Atlanta. It does not make sense to have enough equipment to clear every street because the county typically receives a big snowstorm once every five years. When there is a major winter storm, the county focuses its plowing efforts on the busiest roads to keep people, goods and services moving.

How do I know which streets will be priorities for getting cleared?
You can examine the county’s Snow Route Map (PDF) to find out which streets have top priority for clearing and which streets are classified as important transportation routes, but not critical.

What about parking lot and driveway access during snow storms?
County code makes property owners responsible for maintaining access to driveways and parking lot.

What does the county use to de-ice roads?
Salt brine, a mix of water and salt, is used to pretreat roads before a storm arrives and to remove snow and ice during and after a storm. Salt brine is about one-fourth the cost of magnesium chloride, a chemical used to treat and clear roads in other areas, but is just as effective in removing snow and ice.

Isn’t salt harmful for the environment and won’t it rust my car?
Because of the county’s mild winters, not that much salt is used, so the environmental effects are minimal. Rain that often follows snow and ice quickly washes salt from roads. All the same, you should consider washing your vehicle following a snowstorm to reduce the corrosive effect on exposed steel.

What about the sand and gravel?
We use sanding rock on some hills, curves and other trouble spots, but not on busy roads. In heavy traffic, sanding rock is quickly thrown to the side and must be swept up during post-storm cleanup. It also can clog drainage systems and harm aquatic life if washed into waterways. The cost of applying sanding rock is an expensive alternative at about $93 per lane mile, including post-storm sweeping, compared with $5 per lane mile for salt brine.


Parks

- Why did the county eliminate parking fees?
- Why do I have to pay to reserve picnic shelters?
- Where are shelter reservation fees charged and how much?
- Are there any free picnic shelters?
- Why is Clark County Parks managing residential rental properties?

Why did the county eliminate parking fees?
In April 2013, the Board of County Commissioners voted to remove parking fees at Frenchman’s Bar, Vancouver Lake, Lewisville and Salmon Creek/Klineline Pond regional parks, as well as at Daybreak and Haapa boat launches. Commissioners wanted to promote quality of life and make sure regional parks could be enjoyed by all residents, regardless of their ability to pay parking fees. Please note that parking fees remain in effect at state parks and the city of Vancouver's Marine Park Boat Launch.

Why do I have to pay to reserve picnic shelters?
These fees, collected from May through September at five regional parks, are used to help keep shelters clean and in working order. The reservation fee allows people to book a shelter for a specific day so they can plan a larger picnic or reunion. If a picnic shelter has not been reserved, it is available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

Where are shelter reservation fees charged and how much?
Reservation fees are charged at Captain William Clark Regional Park at Cottonwood Beach, Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park, Lewisville Regional Park, Salmon Creek Regional Park/Klineline Pond and Vancouver Lake Regional Park. Fees vary depending on the size of the shelter. More information about picnic shelter reservations, including current rates, is available on the Clark County Parks website.

Are there any free picnic shelters?
Yes. Free picnic shelters are available year-round on a first-come, first-served basis at a number of other county parks, including Fairgrounds Community Park, Felida Community Park, Hazel Dell Community Park, Hockinson Meadows Community Park and Pacific Community Park, as well as several parks inside the city of Vancouver.

Why is Clark County Parks managing residential rental properties?
Clark County occasionally may purchase a home as part of a larger property acquisition for a park. The county will decide whether to temporarily retain the home as a rental property so it can provide income, as well as assist with security and maintenance, until the area is developed into a park. Rentals are available infrequently, typically only one rental per year.



 
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