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Arlington County: We’re Ready for Winter

by ARLnow.com November 14, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

January 2016 blizzard (Flickr pool photo by John Williams)

It’s likely to be a colder-than-usual winter with slightly above average snowfall. That seems to be the general consensus of the D.C. area’s television meteorologists.

Another huge blizzard, like the kind that walloped the region earlier this year, may not be in the cards, forecasters say, but the strongest consensus was around colder temperatures.

Regardless of exactly how much snow and ice accumulates, Arlington County says it’s prepared for this year’s winter.

Arlington has made a number of changes in the wake of the blizzard, and this year has stockpiled stockpiled 9,200 tons of road salt.

From a county press release:

After last year’s record-breaking winter, Arlington County is ready to take on the upcoming winter season. Although we can’t predict the weather, our crews have been preparing all year to make sure we can quickly make our roads, sidewalks, bus stops and trails safe and passable after a winter event.

Before, during and after a storm

Once the forecast calls for winter weather — snow, ice or freezing rain — Arlington crews follow our snow removal process and phases. They pre-treat main roads before a storm. During the storm, our priority is to keep main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation. After the storm, cleanup operations begin, which includes treating ice on the roadways.

The County has budgeted $1.387 million for FY16-17 snow operations. Our team includes 92 drivers and 46 trucks equipped with salt spreaders and plows. Additional contracting equipment is available depending upon the severity of the storm. We have stockpiled 9,200 tons of salt for roads.

What’s new this season?

  • Piloting augmented deployment: For snow fall greater than 6-8 inches, we have contracted with more snow plow contractors to deploy plows into high risk residential areas even before primary and secondary roads are cleared.
  • Refining our snow blower loaner program: We lend 25 snow blowers to civic associations and community groups. Based on feedback from residents, we have improved our snow blower loaner program by streamlining the application process, expanding outreach and extending training and support.
  • Improving our snow issues form: We have updated the snow issues form to improve the user experience, better display messages and provide context to users if we are unable to address their report immediately.
  • Expanding odd/even parking outreach: To help our snow plowing efforts, we will be encouraging residents to organize with their neighbors to park on one side of the road to allow snowplow operators to efficiently clear more of the street.
  • Enhancing our snow training program: This year, we added training to make sure our crews are prepared. We also added specialized training which includes support functions for snow operations (e.g., chain shop, brine making, and snow-melter training).

Hitting the trails

The County will continue to clear trails and protected bicycle lanes this snow season as part of our commitment to supporting a transportation system with a range of options. The goal is to ensure accessibility and safety for all types of travel throughout a winter event. Updates will be posted through regular County snow communication channels, as well as on the BikeArlington Forum 

 How you can help

Residents, too, play a role in dealing with the fallout of winter weather. 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 certain time frame. Here are some other ways residents can help with our snow removal efforts:

  • Coordinate with neighbors to park cars on one side of the street, where feasible, or avoid on-street parking so snowplow operators can efficiently clear more of the streets
  • Don’t park “head in” on cul-de-sacs so that plows have more room to maneuver
  • Clear your sidewalks and scoop snow towards your house, not the street, BUT
  • Wait for snow plows to come by before clearing snow from the front of driveways, to minimize the amount pushed back by plows
  • Stay home, telework or use mass transit to reduce the number of potentially stranded vehicles
  • Apply only the recommended amount of chemical de-icers on sidewalks to attain a safe and passable way
  • Stay connected through our Snow and Ice Central webpage and our DES social media platforms for updates on snow phases, transportation, trash and other important notifications. Follow us on Twitter @ArlingtonDES and on Facebook at Arlington County Environmental Services.

Residents should report snow-related problems through the “Report a Snow Issue” form found on the Snow and Ice Central webpage. 

Flickr pool photo by John Williams

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