- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2003

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed an executive order designed to keep most Maryland motorists off the road until at least this morning's commute.
Mr. Ehrlich said too many motorists were making frivolous trips that were interfering with snow removal and emergency operations. The ban was set to last until at least 4 o'clock this morning, then state officials would decide whether to extend the deadline.
"You can be on the road [only] if you have an emergency or are providing a service," said Major Michael Fisher, a state trooper with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. "But we have to get these roads plowed, and we do not want any more people just driving around in their four-wheel vehicles."
With at least 10 inches of snow covering roads and another foot or so predicted before the storm ends today, driving conditions became so treacherous that State Police Superintendent Edward Norris pulled cruisers off the roads and used only four-wheel drives. He also called in 300 additional troopers to help motorists stuck on the roads. Maryland State Highway Administration officials said every one of its 2,000 vehicles were in use, and the U.S. National Guard is also expected to join in the emergency efforts.
Police officials reported no major accidents or fatal accidents as of last night, but said they "lost count" of the number of fender-benders and cars stranded in ditches.
That schools and most employees are off for Presidents Day should keep many cars idle and help ease the morning commute.
Still, most road crews acknowledged they could not keep pace with new fallen snow and would not reach the side streets where many motorists park their vehicles.
"That's an impossible goal if we are going to get another foot of snow," said David Buck, spokesman for the Maryland highway administration.
The storm kicked in early Sunday morning and dropped snow at such a furious and steady pace that Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson declared crews would need at least four days to make the roads safe again.
D.C. officials said they will have out 300 trucks and 450 workers to tackle a similar situation, and Montgomery County officials said they had 60 crews that would plow and move snow long after the storm ended.
"We're pretty much attacking arterial roads to keep them as passable as possible," said John DiGiovanni, the county's chief of support services.
Randy Bartlett, an Arlington County director of street maintenance, also said crews would be working around the clock.
"We're plowing many roads but just barely keeping up," he said. "We're not even trying to work the side streets."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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