- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2010

District of Columbia officials have cleared most streets from the record-breaking snow but now face trash piling up in unplowed alleys.

“It’s a very serious problem,” D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said Tuesday. “We had a great challenge with the snow, but now we have three emerging problems: trash, potholes and potential flooding.”

The city’s Public Works Department is advising the city’s roughly 600,000 residents to put trash in dark plastic bags, then place them on curbs. The standard procedure is for residents to put their bags in government-issued, plastic receptacles in the alleys behind their homes.

Roughly 2 feet of snow was dumped on the city in back-to-back storms that started on Feb. 5 and 9.

Public works officials did not respond to calls Tuesday morning on the status of the trash pickup, which also was suspended Monday for Presidents Day.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat running for re-election this year, began facing criticism about his handling of snow removal and school closings soon after the last flakes fell Wednesday evening. The storms gave the city 54.9 inches of snow this year, breaking the record set in 1898-99.

Though most streets are cleared, snow banks have narrowed many to one lane. In addition, municipal trash cans have been encrusted in the icy snow banks, making it difficult for work crews to reach and empty them.

Mr. Graham, whose district includes many apartment buildings, said one of the biggest problems is that alleys are too narrow for plows to make way for trash trucks.

“We’re not prepared to do so because we don’t have the equipment or resources,” he said.

Mr. Graham said he has suggested to apartment-building owners that they hire contractors to plow the alleys, but many cannot afford such services.