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Snow Removal Continues Before Icy Temperatures Tonight

by Ethan Rothstein January 6, 2015 at 4:40 pm 1,555 0

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) The snow has stopped and the sun came out this afternoon, but the bad weather news might not be over yet with below-freezing temperatures expected tonight and tomorrow.

Arlington is continuing its efforts to clear the roads and is on Phase 3 of its snow removal process, clearing residential side streets, county staff said this afternoon.

Crews will monitor temperatures and conditions and will be “handling any re-freeze that is expected overnight and early tomorrow morning,” according to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.

Despite the end of the snowfall and the fallen snow beginning to melt, roads are still slick in places. According to scanner traffic, a Metrobus hit a fire hydrant near Fairlington at around 3:45 p.m.

The county pre-treated roads with brine yesterday afternoon and early this morning, but according to DES Chief Operations Engineer Dave Hundelt, via a county press release, “the pre-treatment was not enough for Tuesday’s heavier-than-expected snowfall and ice.”

“Based on the weather forecasts, our crews anticipated a much milder snow event today,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “By the time it was clear that frigid temperatures were causing hazardous conditions, thousands of commuters and parents driving kids to school were already on the move. As our crews worked hard to treat and plow roads, we urged people to stay off the roads as much as possible.”

Baxter confirmed that some county vehicles were involved in traffic accidents today, but said DES wouldn’t have a final incident summary for several days. The Arlington County Police Department answered 203 calls during the storm, including 96 for traffic accidents and 65 for traffic complaints.

The Virginia Department of Transportation, which is responsible for maintaining Route 50, I-66, Washington Blvd and I-395, said road conditions are “improving” but asked drivers to exercise caution for the evening commute.

“Commuters should see some improvement on their trip home after a long and difficult commute this morning,” Branco Vlacich, VDOT assistant district administrator for maintenance in northern Virginia, said in a press release. “However, with these very cold temperatures, the salt and chemicals used are much less effective. We ask drivers to use extra caution tonight and tomorrow morning and allow extra time for their commute.”

High-use trails in the county were cleared of snow this morning, according to county Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Roberta Korzen, and crews are making a second pass-through to prevent freezing.

“Our teams were scheduled to work eight-hour shifts, but we are now changing to 12-hour shifts to remove as much snow as possible before freezing temperatures occur,” Kurt Louis, Parks and Natural Resources Division Chief, said in an email.

As if the snow itself wasn’t enough for drivers to contend with, a water main broke at around 3:00 p.m. on N. Pershing Drive and N. Oakland Street, and repairs are expected to last through the evening rush hour. Cars can still get through, but motorists should avoid the area if possible.

Water from the break and any snow melting could create serious problems if the crews can’t treat the roads, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang warns. “Given the risk for refreezing, slow speeds and plenty of room is advised for the morning commute on Wednesday,” CWG wrote this afternoon.

In response to the frigid temperatures, Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter is open all day today and will be open all day tomorrow, the county says.

ART bus service has also been altered to avoid troublesome roads. From the county, here are the routes affected:

  • ART Route 61 will not service 12 street and Queen and will use Arlington Boulevard/Route 50 instead.
  • ART Routes 75 will not service Fredrick Street and will use Columbus instead.
  • ART Routes 42, 45, and 77 will not service Courthouse Road, and will take Walter Reed instead.

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