Arlington County has released a behind-the-scenes look at its battle against “Snowzilla” last month.
With the help of snowplows, a snow melting machine and other equipment, workers cleared 2.37 million cubic yards from area streets during the January blizzard. That’s enough to fill 47 football fields with 30 feet of snow.
But “fatigue becomes a big issue,” Mark Gundersen, the county’s operations manager, said in the video. Snow removal crews worked 12-hour shifts for seven consecutive days, he noted.
“We have great pride in all our staff,” Gundersen said. “The staff has great pride in what they do, and it shows in their work.”
Image via YouTube/Arlington County
Arlington residents unhappy with the county’s snow removal efforts during last month’s blizzard are getting an opportunity to share their frustration with local officials.
The county is set to host a public “Snow Forum” at Key Elementary (2300 Key Blvd) in two weeks on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The discussion is scheduled to run from 7 to 9 p.m.
“We’re asking people to tell us about their experiences during and after Snowzilla, and to offer suggestions for how we can improve our efforts to quickly recover from snow and ice events,” Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement.
Those who were happy with the snow removal effort can, of course, also weigh in.
In addition to the event, the county is also asking locals to fill out its online snow survey by next Friday, Feb. 19. Officials will share results from the questionnaire at the meeting.
Residents can register for the forum online.
Photo via Arlington County
The blizzard of 2016 is long gone, but reminders of it are still piled high on the side of local roads and parking lots.
Life has largely returned to normal — students went back to school today for the first time since Wednesday, Jan. 20 — though there are scattered reports of continued mail delivery issues.
It was a Herculean task to clear two feet of snow from local roads. Though major arteries were plowed and made passable pretty quickly, as usually happens with large snow storms in Arlington the residential streets remained snow-covered and treacherous for days, prompting complaints.
Overall, how would you grade Arlington’s snow removal effort?
It’s February — Today is the first day of February. As happens every four years, this year February will have an extra leap day — Monday, Feb. 29.
Top Colleges for Class of 2015 — In terms of applications sent, the top three colleges to which Arlington’s high school class of 2015 applied are: 3. University of Virginia, 2. Virginia Commonwealth University and 1. James Madison University. Arlington students sent a total of 321 applications to JMU. [Arlington Magazine]
Tomorrow: Celebrating Stratford’s Integration — On Tuesday evening Arlington County will hold a special event honoring the four African American seventh-graders who integrated Stratford Junior High — the current home of H-B Woodlawn — in 1959. [Twitter, Arlington County]
There Are Still Snow Boulders in Arlington — A number of Arlington residents are frustrated that some sidewalks, streets and parking lots are still obstructed by large piles of snow. [WJLA]
Scott Walker Owes Shirlington Company $60K — The campaign of former GOP presidential candidate (and Wisconsin governor) Scott Walker owes Shirlington-based Lukens Company $59,140 for direct mail, printing and postage services. It’s the fourth-largest debt listed by the campaign in public documents. [Milwaukee Business Journal]
Win: District Taco Makes ‘Cheap Eats’ List — District Taco has made a BuzzFeed list of “21 Delicious D.C. Eats That Won’t Break The Bank.” Amsterdam Falafel, which has a location in Clarendon, is also on the list. [BuzzFeed]
Fireball Spotted Saturday Night — A very bright meteor that streaked across the sky in the Northeastern U.S. Saturday night was captured on a dash cam in the Skyline section of Fairfax County. [Capital Weather Gang]
Photo by Bruce Majors
The following letter to the editor was submitted by Abby Olin, a Falls Church resident, regarding the local snow removal effort.
Since you recently gave a platform to readers frustrated with the snow-removal progress, I want to take a moment to briefly thank everyone who has contributed to the advanced preparation and snow clearing efforts so far.
Given the snow fall totals and the thousands of miles of road surfaces, Arlington County and other nearby counties have done an admirable job so far.
In the days before the storm arrived, my local Safeway called in extra cashiers, and while my wait time wasn’t exactly short, it was clear they were doing everything they could to ensure their customers were prepared for the storm. My vet was flexible and helped squeeze in my appointment early so my dog didn’t have to wait the whole weekend with an ear infection. The staff at my apartment complex did everything it could to keep the sidewalks clear, shoveling multiples times during the day over the course of Friday and Saturday.
On Sunday, a plow came and got stuck for more than eight hours. I saw several neighbors working to help the plow driver dig out. I didn’t have a shovel, so my contribution was to bring them hot cocoa. From the week leading up to the storm until Sunday, I was struck by how neighborly the residents of Arlington and Falls Church became — I saw neighbors helping to dig out others’ cars, grocery store customers encouraging a mother with several small children to pass them in a long check-out line, and a steep increase in friendly small talk all over town.
Since Monday, however, the tone has largely shifted in a negative direction — complaints about unplowed streets, annoyance with local school districts’ decisions, and a general frustration in regard to how tax dollars are spent. These are all valid concerns, and as a community we should continue to seek resolutions, but I wonder if it might be easier to if we thwart our reflex to find fault and instead exhibit the “pull together” attitude that was on display all last week.
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
County Moves to ‘Phase 4’ of Snow Cleanup — With all residential streets passable, Arlington County has moved to “Phase 4” of its snow removal operation. “Phase 4 will focus on clean up, widening primary and secondary routes, as well as addressing trouble spots in residential areas,” the county said. “Widening and hauling snow from major corridors will continue at night when it is safest — we will do our best to minimize disruption, but please expect some noise.” [Arlington County]
Heavy Traffic Again This Morning — Pretty much the entire stretch of northbound I-395 was a parking lot this morning, as the D.C. area continued to get back to work following this past weekend’s blizzard. Other traffic problem spots include eastbound Route 50, which was backed up starting around Courthouse, Washington Blvd around the Pentagon, and the southbound GW Parkway, which slowed near the first overlook.
McMenamin Digs Out Maywood Neighbors — One Arlington neighborhood that was particularly slow to be plowed after the blizzard was Maywood, along Lee Highway. Residents pitched in to clear the streets, including former independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin, who “brought out his powerful snowblower and carved out walkways, driveways and helped clear a path for an Uber driver whose Chevy Suburban got stuck at the height of the storm.” [Washington Post]
Video: Marymount Swimmers Train in Florida — Want to think warm thoughts after this morning’s icy commute? Here’s a video of Arlington-based Marymount University’s swim team taking a recent training trip to Key West. [YouTube]
Photo courtesy Valerie Crotty
Arlington County and other D.C. area jurisdictions simply do not have the resources to clean up quickly from a monster snowstorm like this past weekend’s blizzard, officials told the County Board yesterday afternoon.
“We do not pretend to have the equipment and staff to handle this kind of record storm,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “It takes time. We don’t spend to the level of equipment or staffing, nor do our sister jurisdictions, to rebound as quickly as we would like when a record event happens.”
Schwartz said snow removal crews — both county employees and contractors — have been working around the clock in 12-hour shifts, operating all the heavy equipment the county has to muster, to try to massive amounts of snow from local roads.
Both Schwartz and Greg Emanuel, head of the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services, acknowledged that the county had been receiving a high volume of complaints from residents about the slow pace of snow removal on certain residential streets. Complaints have been flooding in via email, online form submissions and phone calls, Emanuel said, and county staffers were doing their best to “triage” the feedback.
“We are very much in the middle of this fight,” said Emanuel, who offered a hopeful estimate that all residential streets would be plowed by the end of the day today (Wednesday). Among the problems faced by crews: the snow was too deep and too heavy for traditional plows to be effective in many cases, necessitating the use of front end loaders and other heavy equipment.
“We’re getting to [local streets] systematically, slowly and steadily,” Emanuel said. “Much of our equipment could not plow through the 18 inches due to the physics of the matter.”
Power Outage in Boulevard Manor — About 120 Dominion customers have been without power for much of the morning in Arlington’s Boulevard Manor neighborhood. A damaged power line is said to be the cause. Power may not be restored until later this afternoon.
Garvey Wants More Millennials Engaged With Gov’t — One of Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey’s goals for the year is to find ways for the county government to better engage younger residents. Garvey said members of the Millennial generation get “a little bit of a bad rap” but “really do want to be involved and help.” One possible Millennial-friendly measure that Garvey floated: allowing people to use Skype to speak at County Board meetings. [InsideNova]
Business’ Unplowed Sidewalks Called Out on Social Media — Arlington residents are using Facebook and Twitter to call out businesses and commercial property owners that haven’t yet plowed their sidewalks. One such example is the sidewalk in front of Colonial Village Shopping Center, which as of this morning was still snow-covered even though the shopping center’s parking lot has been plowed. [Twitter]
Arlington Hoping to Get Federal Funds for Snow Cleanup — The Arlington County Board yesterday ratified a declaration of a local emergency, which may help the county receive federal disaster relief funds for its ongoing blizzard cleanup effort. The county has spent more than $800,000 on post-blizzard snow removal so far. [InsideNova]
TSA HQ Limbo Continues — A federal judge’s ruling has left the Transportation Security Administration’s planned move to a new headquarters in Alexandria in limbo. The TSA is currently based in Pentagon City, but the agency is trying to consolidate four offices into one, larger headquarters office. Bisnow’s Ethan Rothstein reports that insiders are expecting “some movement either way in a matter of weeks.” [Bisnow]
Photo courtesy Susan Schonfeld
It’s generally agreed that it would take awhile to recover and clean up from this past weekend’s historic blizzard, which dumped some two feet of the snow on Arlington. But that’s not stopping a myriad of complaints from rolling in.
Since the storm county crews and private contractors have been working in shifts around the clock to clear roads, sidewalks and parking lots. As expected, even today there are plenty of examples of places untouched or barely touched by snow crews.
Some Arlington residents — especially those along major arteries and Metro corridors — have had their street cleared to the point where it’s drive- or walk-able. Others, especially those in single-family home neighborhoods, have not been so lucky.
As of 1:30 this afternoon, Arlington County said half of all residential streets have been plowed. Snow crews have been working for 92 straight hours, the county said.
Some residents who remain snowed in are taking the “keep calm and carry on” approach. Others, however, are upset and are expressing their displeasure on TV, on social media and in emails to ARLnow.com.
After the jump: some of the letters — and photos — sent to ARLnow.com by local residents.
Snowy Scenes in Arlington Make National TV — A number of national television outlets have used video of snowy streets and outdoor activities in Arlington during their coverage of the East Coast blizzard. [ABC News, Weather Channel]
Groundhog Day at Aurora Hills Library — The 1993 Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day will be played “over and over again” at the Aurora Hills library branch on Tuesday, Feb. 2, starting at 1 p.m. [Arlington Public Library]
APS: Please Clear Your Sidewalks — In a letter to parents, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy urges Arlingtonians to clear sidewalks and bus stops in their neighborhood so that students can go back to school safely. APS is closed through at least Wednesday. Students have Monday off due to a regularly-scheduled grade preparation day. [Arlington Public Schools]
Photo courtesy Bryanna Lansing
Tired of waiting for county plows to show up in their no-outlet residential street, a group of neighbors in Dominion Hills took matters into their own hands.
We’re told that neighbors banded together to shovel off N. Arlington Mill Drive, near Bon Air Park, all the way to Wilson Blvd.
As of early Tuesday morning, county snow crews had plowed 30 percent of residential streets, with a focus on especially hilly roads and streets near schools.
Traffic volume on I-395, I-66 and Route 50 was relatively light this morning. Some delays were reported on I-395 at King Street earlier, possibly the result of snow clearing operations.
Every Metrorail line is running every 12 minutes except the Silver Line, which remains closed. WMATA was unable to open aboveground service on the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Vienna this morning, so Ballston is the Virginia end of the line.
Metrobuses are operating on a “severe snow plan” with half hour delays, while Arlington Transit service is operating on a Sunday schedule between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. with “severe service” detours. Only the ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 lines are running.
Arlington County snow removal crews, meanwhile, are making slow but steady progress on clearing neighborhood streets. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services said this morning that 30 percent of residential streets had been plowed.
Taxi Driver Fights Arlington Cemetery Tickets — A taxi driver is scheduled to appear in federal court later this month to appeal three misdemeanor traffic convictions. U.S. Park Police have been repeatedly ticketing Yahia Fayed for idling outside of Arlington National Cemetery, where he says there’s a steady stream of people looking for a cab. Federal officials say that’s not allowed. So far, no militiamen have threatened to protest federal government tyranny on Fayed’s behalf. [Washington Post]
Scary CO Incident at Gym Near Fairlington — Arlington County firefighters and medics were among those who responded to the XSport Fitness gym on King Street, across from Fairlington, on Saturday for a carbon monoxide incident. Witnesses said people all of a sudden started collapsing on their treadmills. Seven were hospitalized. A malfunctioning pool heater was found to be the cause. [Fox 5 DC]
Arlington Ready to Enforce Snow Removal Ordinance — Should snow ever fall this winter, Arlington County is ready to enforce its five-year-old snow removal ordinance. Last season, 25 citations were issued for snow removal violations. [InsideNova]
Lidl HQ Close to Opening — The new U.S. headquarters for German grocery giant Lidl is getting ready to open near Potomac Yard. The company also just purchased land near Richmond for one of its first stores in Virginia. [Virginia Business]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
School Board Candidates Sound Off — The two candidates for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board, Reid Goldstein and Sharon Dorsey, formally announced their candidacies last week, making the case to fellow Democrats for why they should be on the board. The Democratic School Board caucuses will be held in May. [InsideNova]
Arlington Explains Salt Shortage — Updated at 1:15 p.m. — Arlington County officials are explaining last week’s road salt shortage. County officials say a 4,000 ton order for salt placed by the county on Jan. 19 was never filled, due to high demand for salt among eastern seaboard states that have been buried by heavy snowfall this winter. The county was expecting a 2,000 ton salt delivery from Pittsburgh Friday evening. An Arlington official explained the shortage but did not apologize for it, as earlier reported, according to a county spokeswoman. [WTOP]
100 Montaditos Files for Bankruptcy — The company that owns 100 Montaditos, the Spanish mini-sandwich restaurant in Rosslyn, has filed for bankruptcy. No word yet on whether the restaurant or its other chain locations, in Florida, will remain open. [Miami Herald]
Barbershop Owner Profiled — Jim Moore, the owner of Moore’s Barber Shop on Lee Highway in the High View Park neighborhood, is profiled in an article that also chronicles the shop’s 55 year history. [Arlington Connection]
We hear that county roads crews have been unable to fully treat some treacherous stretches of roadway this afternoon due to the salt shortage, leaving drivers stranded on hills and frustrating police officers trying to reopen roads where there have been accidents.
Jessica Baxter, spokeswoman for the Dept. of Environmental Services, confirmed the salt shortage in an email to ARLnow.com this evening.
It’s been a really rough winter season, not only in our region but across the nation. The County is experiencing end of season low inventory levels of salt. Stock piles from our regional contractor are near depleted. We received mid-season resupply, but it was not enough due to the severity of this winter. We’re doing everything we can to receive additional tons as soon as possible.
Crews are working around the clock and their primary effort will be to plow snow from the streets. We’ll use salt conservatively and supplement with sand.
The problem is apparently impacting some other jurisdictions in the region as well. Additional information from Baxter:
We utilize a regional contract [for salt]. Almost all salt in our region comes from the port of Baltimore. We believe all jurisdictions are working carefully to manage their remaining supply.
Arlington has two salt storage facilities, one north side and one south side. Our maximum capacity is about 8,000 tons. We start the season each year at full capacity and refill during the winter.
About 5-6 inches of snow has fallen on Arlington so far today, with the snowflakes beginning to taper off. The snow has caused numerous accidents, stranded drivers, temporarily blocked roads and even the GW Parkway, and forced businesses to close early.