Sunday, November 7, 2010

District Snow Team Deploys for Full Scale Dry Run

DDOT and DPW Crews Test Preparedness for Snow Season

(Washington, D.C.) Nine months after battling the snowiest winter in the city’s history, employees of the Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) climbed back in their plows today to prepare for whatever Mother Nature has in store for the upcoming snow season. The entire District Snow Team – including more than 250 pieces of equipment - participated in a “dry run” to simulate a snow emergency and re-familiarize crews with their routes and equipment.

“This is the most battle-tested snow team we’ve ever had,” said DDOT Director Gabe Klein. “They really earned their stripes last winter clearing as much as 70 inches of snow from 20 different events. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again, but we have to be ready in case it does.”

“Our crews performed admirably last winter,” said DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr., “especially considering the challenges they faced during February’s back-to-back blizzards. We also learned what we could do better and we’ve spent the last few months enhancing our capabilities to cope with any amount of snow.”

The District’s snow plow drivers assembled at RFK Stadium this morning and then spread out across the city to drive their routes and note any obstructions they may encounter. DDOT and DPW also activated the Snow Command Center at the Reeves Center and tested the accuracy of their Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) system. The AVL system gives managers the ability to track snow plows and has been recently upgraded to provide more detailed information about which streets have been treated and which haven’t.

The Snow Team has also made a number of other changes to address lessons learned from last winter, including:

* New contingency plans for more than 12 inches and 18 inches of accumulation
* New contract to rent up to 50 additional snow plows if needed
* Expanded National Highway System (NHS) plowing contract to add more plows, spray trucks and loaders
* COG salt contract will be utilized to backup District’s supply
* Expanded existing contract for more plows, bobcats, loaders and backhoes
* Ward-based management and field reporting system
* Expanded and improved training program for drivers and supervisors
* Expanded anti-icing pre-treatment of residential streets using 4 small spray trucks procured last year

DDOT and DPW also want to make sure residents are prepared for the upcoming snow season. Here is some important information for residents and motorists:

* Remember to keep a safe distance from emergency and snow vehicles and please use caution when attempting to pass a snowplow. Give the drivers plenty of room to safely do their jobs.

o A snow emergency is declared when predicted conditions require all vehicles to be removed from the streets to clear snow/ice from curb to curb. DPW will tow any vehicle left on a snow emergency route to a pre-determined lot. The owner will incur a $250 fine for parking on a snow emergency route during a declared snow emergency, a $100 towing fee and a $25 impound fee (this fee will double after 48 hours and then increase by $25 every 24 hours thereafter). Residents and visitors are strongly encouraged to monitor media reports during storms in case a snow emergency has been declared and to learn when it is lifted. Updates will also be posted on DDOT’s Twitter feed @DDOTDC.

o DPW customers rely on daily trash and recycling collections, which will continue as long as the conditions allow. If a snow/ice event is so severe that making collections poses a safety threat, DPW will suspend collections until conditions improve. Please listen to radio and TV news reports for information about collections. DPW also will provide information through the neighborhood listservs.

o When a snow event is predicted, DPW’s leaf collection crews shift to snow duty and remain on snow duty until the event is over. As a result, leaf collections will be delayed. DPW will inform the public about leaf collections through its Web site,, Facebook page, Twitter page, the media, and neighborhood listservs.

o DPW and DDOT urge residents and businesses to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice within eight hours following the end of a snow/ice storm. Spreading salt on your sidewalk before an event makes clearing the sidewalk easier. Kitty litter also can be used. It is useful for providing traction, not for melting snow and/or ice. Residents also are asked to look out for their elderly and disabled neighbors who may not be able to apply salt before a storm or remove snow/ice afterwards. Safe sidewalks help everyone.
For more information about the District’s snow and ice control plan, visit DDOT’s website at or DPW’s website at

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