With muddy slush still covering parts of streets and sidewalks in Washington, D.C., residents and officials have criticized the city’s response to the winter’s first major snowstorm. Local Georgetown officials and residents said the District Department of Transportation’s response to last week’s snowstorm was not as quick and effective as its performance in previous years. Bill Starrels and Ron Lewis, two commissioners on the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said that the conditions of the roads this year made travel very dangerous in comparison to those during past blizzards. “From our own observations and from talking with residents, the District’s snow-removal efforts during and after the storm were not up to the standards of the past two or three winters,” they said in a joint comment. Quickly accumulating precipitation affected Metro public transportation, causing several delays that lasted throughout Tuesday evening and some that carried into the next day. DDOT crews arrived on the roads late Tuesday evening, by which time some ice and snow had already accumulated on the streets. DDOT started working that evening by laying brine on the major roads, said Erik Linden, a spokesman for the department. But precipitation accumulated too quickly for controlled plowing and clean-up on Tuesday, and full plowing did not start until Wednesday morning, Linden added. “It was a very unique storm, as far as the type of precipitation and the timing,” he said. “Temperatures were so freezing, and the precipitation didn’t really end until 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. That presented a challenge for the rush hour.” Many small roads with parked cars, such as off-campus streets in Burleith, were left unplowed. “We do not plow the alleys,” Linden said. “We focus on the major roadways.” D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, facing the first major snow clean-up of his tenure, met with DDOT directors last Friday to discuss how the city’s response to the storm could have been improved. Fenty delayed the opening of D.C. government offices by two hours Wednesday morning. “We learn something from every storm. There’s always something to improve when it comes to response,” Linden said. “We’ll be sitting down again with Mayor Fenty to discuss future storms.” Dena Iverson, Fenty’s spokesperson, declined to comment on the snow removal. The greater D.C. region also saw emergency closings and cancellations. Area public and private schools closed early on Tuesday, and some remained closed until the weekend. In addition, Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport canceled almost all flights Wednesday and did not resume flights until Thursday morning. Amanda Weber, a Burleith resident who commutes to The George Washington University, said that bus ride, which normally lasts about 20 minutes, took almost an hour. “It was miserable. I think they definitely should have had more people out throwing salt on the ice,” Weber said. “I didn’t see anyone out doing anything about it.” A DDOT representative will be present at the next ANC meeting Feb. 27 to discuss its snow-removal services in the Georgetown area.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.