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Arlington County: We’re Ready for Snow

by ARLnow.com December 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm 4,478 24 Comments

Tomorrow (Dec. 21) is the first day of winter, and Arlington County says it’s prepared to deal with wintry weather when it finally arrives in the area.

Although nothing more than a few possible snowflakes is in the forecast at this time, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services says it will have its 46 snow plows and 92 drivers ready when the white stuff does begin to accumulate. And the county website has some new features to keep residents abreast of road conditions and snow plow progress.

From a county press release:

Arlington County is gearing up for winter weather by refining and reintroducing a number of tools to keep residents informed when winter weather strikes, including more traffic cameras, the Snow Removal Phase System, and the Snow and Ice Central web page .

Once the forecast calls for winter weather — snow, ice or freezing rain — Arlington preps its plows and salt trucks and the snow team is ready to go. During a storm, Arlington’s snow crews focus on keeping main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation (red primary routes). The team includes 92 drivers and 46 trucks equipped with salt spreaders and plows. Four of the trucks also are equipped with salt brine sprayers.

This year Arlington will be using a more environmentally-friendly salt brine solution to pre-treat our roadways. The less corrosive liquid magnesium chloride and salt mixture is used in lower temperatures when it is most effective. And when we do need to use salt or sand, crews adjust equipment to ensure only the proper amount is dispensed.

Snow Phases Provide County Removal Status

For a second season, Arlington will implement a phase system in order to share information about snow operations and removal. With the system, residents can check a storm’s progress, track the County’s efforts to clear streets, and determine how to best prepare for the winter weather. The current phase will be posted on the County web site and social media channels. For snow removal updates, follow the Department of Environmental Services on Facebook or Twitter.

More Traffic Cameras to Monitor Road Conditions

This year, the County has nearly doubled the number of traffic cameras monitoring road conditions. Introduced in 2011, the traffic camera web page offers real-time views, major intersections and other key locations. With access to real-time road conditions, drivers are able to make informed decisions about traveling during and after a winter weather storm. The Snow and Ice Central page features 40 more cameras this year, for a total of 83 traffic cameras.

Snow Removal Ordinance

The County’s Snow Removal Ordinance requires all Arlington property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within a designated time period. To learn more about the ordinance, read the FAQs.

  • Captain_Obvious

    No they’re not, this area will NEVER be ready for any snow.

  • Ashton Heights

    Is it actually legally enforceable for the government to make homeowners clear public sidewalks (which they do not own)? I’d be very curious to see what would happen if you take this to court.

    • Dan

      I don’t think that anyone knows whether the snow removal ordinance is actually legal.
      My hunch is that it won’t withstand a legal challenge for a number of reasons but someone would have to pony up the money required for the challenge.
      That of course is what the board is counting on.

      • novasteve

        What would be the challenges? 13th amendment? They’ll argue you can pay someone else to do it, but that assumes you have the money to pay someone to shovel. It’s expensive to live here and apparently plenty of people already need to rely on subsidies to live here so maybe they don’t have the money to pay others?

  • Fedworker

    Hey did that plow just push snow into the bike lane?

  • arlcyclist

    Arlington County: We’re ready for snow (if you drive a car).

    • Captain_Obvious

      exactly, how else are emergency personnel and first responders supposed to DRIVE on the roads.

      • Ballstonian

        Exactly. Given the limited resources and manpower, I certainly would prefer that the county attempt to keep the main roads passable, rather than aiding those trying to bike through the aftermath of a blizzard.

        • SteveP

          My problem is mostly that some of the people clearing the streets push or dump the snow onto the sidewalks, making them impassable. During one of the big storms of winter 2009/2010 I found that there were several neighborhoods where even though the residents had cleared the walkways of snow, the plows and front loaders used the sidewalks as the place to put the snow.

          In the case of plows, they frequently pushed the snow to the corners of intersections, blocking the sidewalk openings to cross the road (I’m not talking about the snow that gets pushed off the side of the plow as it goes by). In this case you would have to climb a few feet to a couple of yards of snow twice to cross the road or use driveways before and after the intersection, walking in the street to get through the intersection.

          The front loaders should have been paired with dump trucks to move the snow to unused parking lots, parks, etc, but instead in many cases just lifted snow over the piles created by shoveling the walkways and onto the walkways. A specific instance was in front of George Mason U on Fairfax Dr. I walked to work on the first day of the storm and was surprised at how quickly and well they had cleaned the sidewalk and other walkways around their property. The next day, again walking to work, I found workers from the school trying to figure out how to move the several feed of packed snow dumped there from the street by front loaders.

          While cleaned streets are important during a snowstorm, especially for emergency vehicles, considering the time it takes for the minor streets to be cleared in the entire county, the sidewalks are the best option for checking on neighbors, getting to the store, etc., and they should not be made impassable by the act of clearing the streets.

          I lived in the snow belt for over 20 years. I understand that we don’t (and shouldn’t) have the same equipment to clean the streets of snow since we don’t get as much here and as a result the streets will take longer to clear. But blocking the walkways in this manner when clearing the streets should not be accepted.

          • Buckingham Beauty

            Exactly. Some of us live in Arlington precisely because we can live without cars here, and Arlington prides itself on being so carfree-friendly. But how can you be remotely safe as a pedestrian when the sidewalks are covered in 2-3′ of snow?

          • Dan

            That was the winter when as you as you cleared your sidewalk, a county truck would come along and push packed snow onto your cleared sidewalk….and then Zimmerman proposed this stupid ordinance the following year and it was passed by the county.

            Good grief !!

          • Novaqt

            I agree with Dan. Good grief! I have been living in Arlington on a snow emergency route. The snow plows have to clear these routes first. I have a long sidewalk that faces this road. People here are elderly and have a hard time shoveling when trucks throw the snow back up on the cleared sidewalk. Buckingham Beauty, instead of complaining, why don’t you volunteer to help clear the sidewalks you have problem with. In Maine, the snow removal people are required to clear the public walkways. The only thing the homeowners do is clear their driveways. Arlington County is self-serving and does not think things through when they ask elderly empty nesters to clear their public sidewalks!

          • SteveP

            To be clear, my complaints are about snow being pushed onto the sidewalks is a deliberate act. Plows clearing the streets in the typical way push snow into the ends of driveways and sidewalks at intersections. This is usually a smaller amount than the amount mentioned above, and while heavy, is not usually an issue to remove for most property owners.

            My neighborhood has a shoveling brigade that helps out those that need help clearing their walks. I personally have always helped out my neighbors that needed it, having been taught growing up that this is the neighborly thing to do – I mean, really, if you don’t help your neighbors, who are you going to help?

            One of the worst offenders in my area during the 2009/2010 storms was a church that arranged to have their lot plowed but lift one shovel to clear their sidewalk. Since that year, they have usually cleared it, and I’m assuming that it is in response to the ordinance. In my opinion, they had only previously cared about their congregation, which mostly drives there, not thought about their immediate community that needs the sidewalk to safely walk to the main roads to catch the bus, go to the store, etc.

          • Buckingham Beauty

            Novaqt, I’m not physically capable of shoveling 2-3′ of snow, or I would help. I could maybe help when it’s a few inches, but when the plow comes through and piles a couple of feet over the sidewalk, it’s beyond what many people are capable of doing. You say, “People here are elderly and have a hard time shoveling when trucks throw the snow back up on the cleared sidewalk,” and this is exactly what I’m complaining about. I don’t have my own sidewalk (thank goodness), but I can understand why people, especially the elderly, can’t shovel the tons of snow the plows drop on the sidewalks. So my issue is that the plow people should either come back and take care of the sidewalks or stop dropping so much on the sidewalks to begin with. I understand that emergency routes need to be done first, but when in many places the sidewalks aren’t addressed AT ALL after the plows have covered them, it makes it extremely dangerous for those of us without cars. You either have to walk on the street itself or else walk on couple of feet of snow, which gets really dicey after awhile.

  • Arlington Cat

    Bro Tip; if a 20 somewthing chick is digging her own car out of the snow, chances are high she doesn’t have a boyfriend at that point.

    Go help her out, man!

    • Ellen D

      Or her girlfriend is inside staying warm

      • sneaky pete

        or it’s her boyfiriends car and he’s gone to get a couple lattes….hey girl if I leave you here alone some sad loseer will dig the car out and try and hit on you…..I’ll be watching from that Starbucks across the street then we’ll head back to my house for some wild sex.

        • drax

          Sounds like you need a girlfriend.

          • Ellen D

            or rather a life.

  • soarlslacker

    I can’t wait until my alley is plowed in again and I have to clear it with a pick axe and shovel.
    Even better, I have a crazy neighbor who cleans a parking space for his car with his snow blower and then leaves the snow blower on his uncleared sidewalk.

    • 1RLI

      Abandoned property = free snow blower!

  • John E. Andre

    We’ll see…but this winter is beginning to shape up more like last winter [when there was hardly any snow worth shoveling] than like 2009/2010.

  • Sarcastic Jane

    Oh yeah, they are ready for snow as long as it turns 60 degrees and sunny the day after any measurable snow falls which is rare. The money they waste dumping tons of salt/sand/solution on the roads when it is 35 degrees outside would be better spent in sending the plow drivers to a snow plowing school in a city that know how to deal with snow like Buffalo!

  • Ben

    From an County release:

    an County


    Comon, now.


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