- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Highway departments are ready for ice although the weather forecast sees only a 30 percent chance of freezing rain on Washington-area roads and highways tonight.
"We've got lots of sand, salt and de-icing chemicals," said Bruce Williams, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation.
In Maryland, the Montgomery County Highways Division also watches the official weather forecast, Division Chief John Thompson said.
"If it is a good possibility, we'll call the crews and attack," said Mr. Thompson, who will wait until this afternoon to decide if de-icing and road protections are necessary.
"We are, in fact, ready," said Mary Myers, spokeswoman for the District's Department of Public Works.
Public works and transportation department officials were monitoring weather forecasts. Ms. Myers said sanding, salting and de-icing crews would be alerted if freezing rain appears this afternoon.
The defenses against ice would begin on bridges, ramps and overpasses where ice forms first. The prevention will continue until the freezing stops.
"We are absolutely ready," said Betty Hager Francis, director of the Prince George's County Department of Public Works and Transportation.
Bins have been refilled with salt and sand after crews combated snow on the roads last week. Repairs have been completed on trucks and other vehicles that broke down, Ms. Francis said.
"Forecasts change a lot," said Randy Bartlett, chief of Arlington County's Division of Water, Sewer and Streets, who will wait for the latest forecasts today before deciding whether spreaders will be reattached to sand-salt trucks.
Potomac Electric Power Co. also monitors the weather and checks with other area utility companies if it seems likely that ice will form on power lines and trees.
"Clearly, freezing rain is something we don't relish," said Pepco spokesman Bob Dobkin. "Damage can be bad, like in North Carolina last week."
An ice storm Wednesday the beginnings of the storm that dumped 6 inches of snow on the Washington area knocked down trees and power lines in North Carolina, cutting off power to more than 1 million customers.
Thousands were still without electricity yesterday, five days after the storm.
The Washington area endured similar hardship in February 1994. Some residents were without power and heat for two weeks. Damage in Maryland alone was estimated at $20 million.
"It took me until Memorial Day to recover from that," said Mr. Bartlett, remembering the ice damage of 1994, especially the frozen water meters and water lines.
Forecasters believe freezing rain, if it comes, will begin this afternoon or evening, first striking the western and northern suburbs.

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