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How Does The County Clear Snow From Trails?

by ARLnow.com December 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm 3,210 21 Comments

Here’s one way that Arlington County is making sure that pedestrian routes like the W&OD Trail are clear for cyclists, runners and walkers during the winter.

This pickup-mounted snow plow was spotted near today’s fire on Four Mile Run Drive.

Update on 12/23/10 — Since there was some confusion in the comments, we asked Department of Environmental Services spokesperson Myllisa Kennedy to clarify the county’s trail plowing policy.

“The County does a limited amount of snow clearing on trail sections where they provide the greatest community benefit including access to schools, metro rail stations, hospitals, or other areas frequented by the public,” Kennedy said. “Other county priorities include streets, bridges, and sidewalks on school routes, around county buildings and other operational needs.”

  • G

    They didn’t do this AT ALL last winter… from what I remember at least.

    • mehoo

      Roads come first. Perhaps they ran out of money before they could get to the trails last year.

    • G

      Running or biking last winter was very annoying. There weren’t very many safe alternatives aside from riding in lanes narrowed by the snow with traffic.

  • SoArlRes

    Agreed. I was having difficulty using the trail weeks after the last snow storm. Perhaps this is a new program?

  • TGEoA

    Meh, more potholes for the county to not fix.

  • Westover

    There was one of the snowblowers from the County lend program out there last winter. Increase the Snowblower program!!!!

    • Westover

      At least there were on certain parts of the trail.

  • ARLk

    That we are whining about how the county clears TRAILS says that we have life pretty good. I expect trails to come well after streets and let’s just say that the snowblower program is a racket for whoever has a shed and can keep the thing. I’ve broken my back and paid too much $ to clear my *200 yards of sidewalk* (that are a known major walk route to Metro)while watching the tool who keeps the thing do his friends’ houses first.

    • mehoo

      Well, yes, but it also means we make good use of our trails.

    • Westover

      Go talk to the guy, lwt him know you are going to use it to clear the public access to the Metro as the program was intended for, and I am sure he will let you clear your sidewalk before he takes care of his friend’s.

  • G, it was a combination of a bunch of things. I think they had the truck last year but A) the roads did get priority, B) there are a lot of trails and only one truck and C) once the snow got packed down and hardened there was nothing they could do until it melted, truck or no truck. Also, like TGEoA said, plowing tears up the trails and they have limited money to do repairs on them.

    • Greg

      I wonder if that truck could even get on the trails last winter. We had a big dump-truck style plow get stuck on my street. That pick-up was probably pretty useless unless a big plow went through the area first.

  • G::NativeArlingtonian

    Not as nice as a perfectly clear trail, but for winter bike commuters this works as a quick and dirty solution:


    As nice as it is to see a trail being plowed, I’d hate to see the pavement torn up as well. Its already rough enough in spots.

    • Westover

      I can see that as an advantage in stopping and starting, but turning could be worse! Hard cold plastic on ice with the edge perpendicular to your intended change in direction? Hold on for a slide!

  • Chris

    Went for a run on Sunday, along the W&OD from Ohio south to the Bluemont Trail, and then up to Ballston, before coming back on part of the Custis Trail. It was cleared in part, snow-covered in part. Grateful for that which was cleared, and careful on that which wasn’t.

    Question: That looks like a county truck in the picture. Does the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, which owns the W&OD trail, do any snow-clearing on the trail?

  • Bender

    I’ve lived along the trail for nine years now, and I don’t remember the trail ever being plowed. The trails weren’t cleared even after the snow turned to ice, even on inclines and bridges across the creek.

  • High

    It is not a priority. The roads are more important to clear for emergency purposes. If you want it clear, get out there with a shovel. I guarantee the county will not put trails as a priority! Get used to it and quit whining.

    • G

      That’s fine if they don’t want to make it a priority… that just means that the drivers shouldn’t whine (or honk) either when bikers/walkers/runners are in the road because there is no where else to go.

      • mehoo

        Yeah, or even pedestrians in the road after a heavy snow.

  • Ren

    I’m not saying trails get their due, but I tried to ride the Capital Crescent Trail up to Montomery County last February or early March after the snows here. I had been riding in Arlington with no problem, but Montgomery County had done nothing for their trails even after weeks and it was a nightmare. DC and Arlington had.

  • reader

    They certainly haven’t done this to the trails near my house (Bluemont Junction). It’s still covered in a lot of ice – the snow is fine but the icy parts are quite dangerous. I walk my dog daily on it and when/if she sees a squirrel its good luck to me!


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