- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 7, 2002

The District stands to gain about $134,000 from car owners who did not move their vehicles from streets designated as snow-emergency routes during Thursday's snowstorm.

City workers cited and towed 535 vehicles during the snow emergency that began midnight Wednesday and ended at 8 p.m. Thursday, said Mary Myers, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works. Each ticket costs $250.

Vehicles were not impounded, but they were moved to the nearest legal parking spot so they would not impede snowplows and de-icing trucks.

"It's a huge, unwieldy obstacle," Miss Myers said. "Keep in mind that you can't plow a car."

The District deployed 200 plow trucks at 11 p.m. Wednesday and ordered car owners to remove their vehicles from about 200 miles of city streets designated snow-emergency routes, which are marked year-round by red and white signs.

Even residents who typically park overnight on the streets had to move their cars before midnight to avoid fines Thursday, when 6 inches of snow fell on the Washington area.

Had the cars been impounded, some owners would have had more to worry about than calling the city to find out where their cars had been towed, Miss Myers said. "If they were impounded, they'd have to pay any other tickets they have to get their cars back," she said.

Car owners can find their relocated vehicles by calling 202/541-6078. The $250 fine will double for owners who don't pay within 30 days. The fines will go in to the city's general fund.

Weather forecasts for today and tomorrow offer no chance for more snow, with high temperatures expected in the low 40s.

Yesterday, hundreds of snow trucks worked on side roads, bridges, overpasses and main roads around the Washington region in the aftermath of the biggest snowstorm in nearly three years.

At least 24 deaths were blamed on the storm that swept up the East Coast, including a Virginia woman who froze to death after her car slid off the road, police said.

In Maryland, state police said some roads that were treated with antifreeze solution refroze, creating dangerous driving conditions during the morning rush hour.

"We had a flurry of crashes, particularly on the ramps and overpasses [Thursday and yesterday]," said Cpl. Rob Moroney of the Maryland State Police.

Area public school systems yesterday canceled classes for a second consecutive day except Alexandria, which required its 11,000 students to go to school after a two-hour delay. Schools spokeswoman Barbara Hunter said Alexandria is only 15 miles across and mostly urban, so it's a lot easier for workers to clear the streets.

In Montgomery County, where the County Council last year made failure to shovel snow from sidewalks in front of a home or business punishable by a $50 fine, officials said they would not go after residents who do not comply within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Regina Williams, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, said she didn't know of anyone who had called the DMV to complain about snow-route citations or to inquire about appealing the tickets.

Miss Williams would not speculate on how many tickets would be contested, adding that walk-in adjudication is available for those who think they were wronged.

Miss Myers said clearing the routes was vital because those roads serve emergency vehicles and are major thoroughfares. She said ridding the streets of snow becomes a much lengthier task when cars are in the way.

She said that if the District had waited until daylight Thursday to begin the snow cleanup, the roads would have been dangerous for commuters and emergency vehicles.

Miss Myers said the city worked to inform the public that the snow-emergency routes had to be clear by passing on the information to area media as early as 11 a.m. Wednesday.

"It was on five stations within five minutes," she said.

Overall, D.C. officials said they successfully handled the first snowstorm of the season, keeping major roads passable and plowing neighborhood streets within hours of the last snowflake's falling.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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