- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Public works officials in Maryland, Virginia and the District are trying to figure out what to do with tons of snow piled up by plows on the sides of streets and highways.
"The snowfall is over and all the excitement that goes with it," said Mary Myers, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works. "Now our job is moving the snow. It takes a while and really that is the reality of it."
After two days of pushing snow from the city's main streets, public works crews in the District yesterday began the task of loading snow in trucks and hauling it away.
Miss Myers said plow drivers are taking truckloads of snow to the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast, even as public works officials consult with property-management officials to identify other suitable vacant city-owned property.
"It's not something we have to think about very often, but we want to put it in places where we won't have to move it again and it wouldn't contribute to flooding or other adverse environment conditions," she said.
The Maryland State Department of Transportation has also begun hauling snow from some state roadways in populated areas.
Once the driving lanes are clear on Interstates 495 and 695, department spokeswoman Sandra Dobson said, crews will try to push the snow off roadways and over guardrails to clear the shoulders in areas bordered by open land.
But for some roadways in populated areas, like Georgia Avenue and Connecticut Avenue in Montgomery County, plowing snow just creates other problems.
"If you push the snow into the parking lanes to free the driving lanes, then there's no place to park," she said. "If you push the snow from the parking lanes to parking lots, then that creates a problem."
She said the transportation department has been hauling the snow with front-end loaders. The final location depends on the district, but she said snow has been hauled to stone quarries, creeks, rivers or the medians or grassy areas at park-and-ride lots.
In Maryland, the state Department of Transportation has responsibility for removing snow from state roadways, which have route numbers assigned to them. Counties or cities remove snow on their roadways, which are generally identified by names.
In Montgomery County, officials are taking a more cautious approach.
John Thompson, chief of the Montgomery County Division of Highways, said there is a lot of vacant county-owned property that may be suitable to haul snow to, but he has had to talk with officials about the possible environmental effects of dumping snow contaminated with salt and debris.
He said the county is in a "holding pattern" when it comes to hauling snow, and if any were to be removed it would be from more urban areas of the county like Bethesda or Wheaton and would be taken "wherever we think we can get permission to put it."
Other jurisdictions are hoping the problem just goes away.
Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said state officials will have a better idea tomorrow how much snow might have to be removed, but they are hoping to avoid the process altogether.
"We're doing everything we can to avoid that right now," she said. "Snow removal is very time-consuming, very labor-intensive, and the stuff has gotten really heavy."
According to the National Weather Service, the high temperature today should reach the 40s.
By the weekend, high temperatures are expected to reach the 50s. And weekend rain might help dissolve some of the accumulated snow.
Miss Morris said the priority for Northern Virginia state roads remains trying to plow the snow off the roadways.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has responsibility for state-maintained roads, which include those within Fairfax County. Arlington County and Alexandria remove their own snow.
If it comes to hauling the snow, she said likely it would be transported to state maintenance yards.
S.A. Miller contributed to this report.


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