The Department of Public Works is responsible for building and maintaining most of the physical assets of the city: its roads and bridges, stormwater management systems, parks, and other city properties and buildings. Since the city does not own and operate all of the public assets in Newcastle -for instance, the Coal Creek Utility District provides domestic water and sanitary sewer services-some of the work of the department is coordinating with other agencies and partners.
Public Works Director
Even though Newcastle is a smaller city, we aim to build projects and provide services to the quality and professionalism of a bigger city. We want our work to be an excellent reflection on the pride people feel for Newcastle .
We divide our work into three general categories: engineering, maintenance, and parks/trails.
Newcastle Public Works Standards Update
The City of Newcastle's Public Works Department is currently revising the 2000 Newcastle Public Works Standards and your comments are welcome. The Public Works Standards contain design criteria, construction requirements and guidelines for municipal construction within the City. The proposed updates will:
- Revise a number of unnecessarily restrictive design requirements (e.g., residential driveway grades, joint use driveway tract geometry);
- Bring some standards in line with locally accepted or national requirements (entering sight distance, ADA compliance);
- Provide flexibility necessary for design of high density projects on constrained sites (use of hammerhead turnarounds, relaxed roadway geometric criteria)
Please navigate to the following link for the current draft:
I. Engineering (street improvements, drainage, slope stability, development review, etc.)
The City of Newcastle continually evaluates the existing conditions of its roads and sidewalks. Often, we are determining the advantages or disadvantages of implementing a new traffic signal light, changing the street channelization and/or adding a sidewalk. Traffic and civil engineers support the city in these Capital Improvement Project (CIP) endeavors.
Increases in impervious area typically results in the need for modernizing storm drainage systems. Hydraulic engineers help design these drainage systems, specifically with respect to detention, water quality treatment, collection and conveyance functions.
In a city with such undulating and steep topographic relief, erosion and landslides are a concern. As much as practical, we try to be proactive with respect to hillside stability. Geotechnical and structural engineers, as necessary, support the City in stabilizing disturbed slopes throughout the public areas of the City.
In addition to the public projects occurring, there are many privately funded developments continually being constructed throughout the City. The Public Works Department provides engineering review on these projects prior to construction. II. Maintenance (potholes, irrigation, drainage, hazardous trees, snow plowing, etc.)
The City of Newcastle prides itself on maintaining roads, City property, and other infrastructure to the highest possible standards within our mandated responsibilities and budget. We are diligently fixing potholes in the streets, carefully inspecting irrigation systems at our parks and other city properties, constantly improving the functionality of the public storm drainage systems and attentively determining the stability of hazardous trees in public areas. Following snowfall, the City will snow plow (see below). Citizens with specific concerns about maintenance can visit City Hall and submit a Request for Action Form.
The City of Newcastle is growing and with growth comes increased traffic congestion and other issues. Long-term traffic concerns such as sight distance or traffic calming is addressed on a continual basis by the City. Citizens with specific concerns about traffic issues can submit a Request for Action Form online. Traffic issues that involve immediate risk to health and safety should be reported to the police.
Snow and Ice
How Snow & Ice Routes are Prioritized
During snow and ice events, the City of Newcastle will first plow priority emergency routes, ensuring that emergency responders (police, fire and aid) can maneuver within the city. A snow and ice priority map has been developed in conjunction with our Police and Fire providers. The prioritization numbers refer to the order in which the streets get plowed or treated. The level of treatment of the roads is dependent on the degree of snow/ice on the road and the geometrics (grade, presence of intersections, etc). Due to equipment capability priority routes one and two are often started concurrently.
We often receive requests to elevate a street's priority because it is particularly steep or serves a number of homes. However, the prioritization is more focused on ensuring that our emergency service providers can get in, out, and around the City. In some cases, the steepness of a road factors into that selection - but it is not the sole reason. We also have to carefully consider our equipment capabilities and equipment/staff availability.
During an actual event, we adhere to the prioritization as best we can. However, the situation can be very dynamic. We work with the emergency providers to assist with any immediate needs they may have. If a snow/ice event begins, and school buses are on the roads, we include those bus routes in our decision-making process. We have highly variable weather conditions which may leave a Priority 1 route in passable condition, but create a highly hazardous situation on a Priority 2 route. Equipment availability and capability also enters into the equation. We have some equipment that can take wider passes for the arterials, and other equipment that is more capable of navigating the steep grades. For this reason, Priority 1 and Priority 2 routes are often started simultaneously.
Two roads that will be closed due to hazardous conditions during snow and ice events are SE 76th Street and SE 79th Drive.
Since we cannot be everywhere at once, we always appreciate and welcome the notification we receive from citizens regarding particularly treacherous conditions in their area of the City.
Tools, Resources and Action Plans
The City of Newcastle attempts to increase the safety of our major roads by applying de-icing agents prior to anticipated snow and ice conditions. Sanding or plowing is completed once ice and snow are on the ground. Not all roads can be treated for snow and ice so remember to drive slowly when road conditions are challenging!
In an attempt to better prepare residents for action plans in case of inclement weather or natural disaster, the City of Newcastle is offering the following information with regard snow, ice, wind, flood and earthquakes. The intent is to inform our residents which routes will be cleared and/or evaluated FIRST in a weather-related event.
We hope that by providing this information, you can better evaluate your routes through the City. We have also included a few website links which could prove useful for preparing your family and friends. Remember, if government resources are stretched beyond their capabilities, it may take several days to receive help. It is always best to prepare yourself and your family.
The City of Newcastle ranges from almost sea level to an elevation of 1000 feet. In some cases there are few to no alternative routes when a collector or arterial road is blocked. Further hampering winter snow and ice activities are difficult weather patterns, infrequent winter events, and narrow windows for effective plowing or deicing. Weather patterns within Newcastle can range form 40 degrees and raining at sea level to 30 degrees and snowing.
The City’s winter maintenance program is sized and comprised to facilitate the movement and safety of public traffic under normal expected winter conditions. This will typically be when temperatures drop and create black ice or frost conditions. A light to moderate snowfall may also occur. The exceptional winter weather event in western Washington is going to be a heavy snowstorm, short in duration over a wide geographic area. Since this happens infrequently, sizing a winter maintenance program to meet the demands of every exceptional winter event would be inefficient management of resources because the excess equipment and materials would be idle most of the winter.
Due to equipment constraints, it is necessary during some winter events to prioritize our route response. It is an expectation that within equipment and personal allowances, staff will work to keep all arterials and collector roads clear of snow and ice. Because many winter weather events severely tax our abilities to keep these roads at our preferred level of service goals, we will in many cases focus primarily on main arterials. Once a storm subsides and as soon as practical, crews will focus on the remaining priority routes. Crews will not plow driveways, private roads, or private parking lots. Crews will not plow steep hills that are unsafe for equipment to drive on. If you live in a cul-de-sac or dead end road, your road may be last to be plowed. Our goal is to achieve the greatest good in the shortest amount of time by focusing on heavily traveled roads.
The City of Newcastle’s response is based on past experience and anticipated winter events for the winter ahead. When that rare, heavy snow storm does occur, our maintenance program may very well be unable to deliver the preferred level of road service for the duration of the event. We appreciate your understanding. Newcastle residents should know that their maintenance staff has worked diligently and put in long hours during past events and will continue to do so during future events.
For additional information here are some helpful links:
III. Parks and Trails
The City of Newcastle currently has 17 formal public parks. These parks range from the multi-purpose Lake Boren Park that includes play structures, tennis courts, basketball, fishing, community events, concerts, etc. to smaller "pocket parks" that contain a picnic table and play structure. The City strives to maintain all of these parks at a high level consistent with the pride of Newcastle residents. Winding throughout the City are a plethora of trails. These trails include equestrian, pedestrian, and non-motorized bike usage. Exceptional views of the surrounding Puget Sound, May Creek and Lake Boren can be experienced from these trails. Newcastle volunteers such as Newcastle Trails and Weed Warriors provide valuable assistance on maintaining existing trails and creating new trails.