- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Gregory Robinson has been driving a snowplow in the District for 30 years, and this past weekend has been one of the worst he has had.
More than 16 inches of snow piled up in the District, and the days of waiting for someone to come free their snow-bound cars and neighborhoods left some city residents on edge.
"It appears more like 3 to 4 feet of snow and plowing it is hard. There are lots of people out there cussin' you," Mr. Robinson said. He said residents were angry that plow trucks sometimes had to pile the snow they cleared from streets behind cars, making it harder for them to pull out.
Plow operators such as Mr. Robinson have been working 12-hour shifts in the District since Friday, first in preparation for and now to clear up the area's biggest winter storm in years.
At one of the Department of Transportation yards on W Street in Northeast, drivers started arriving early yesterday afternoon to take over from the previous shift that had worked all night and all morning.
In a trailer, Dan Tangherlini, director of the Department of Transportation, and Robert Marsili, chief of street and bridge maintenance, hunched over a computer in a small office lined with maps and snow game plans.
"Half the battle with snow removal is preparation," said Mr. Marsili, adding they had prepared their strategy days in advance.
"Can we do things better? Heck, yeah," he said. "But we are doing the best we can."
In a neighboring room, workers said they had been getting calls all day from residents about the snow removal.
"We try to remain calm and tell them we will call back as soon as we find out when the snow truck will be on their street," said one worker who did not want to be named.
Driving in several inches of snow is not easy, as Mr. Robinson points out. The orange trucks can slip and slide as they work through narrow side streets lined with cars.
"It has been real nasty," said Devon Montgomery, a plow driver who was just arriving to start his shift.
Mr. Montgomery, who has worked daily since Friday, said this was his first major snowstorm since he started operating plows three years ago.
"We have cleared some roads and some side streets, but a lot remains to be done," he said.
Despite the long hours, drivers said there was also an element of excitement to their work. And commitment.
Mr. Marsili said of the 110 department drivers working, only one had called in sick since the storm, while another couldn't make it because she was unable to find a baby sitter.
"These are great guys out there men and women who understand their responsibility," he said.
The drivers said they would keep going until the roads are clear.
"I love plowing snow," Mr. Montgomery said. "I make sure there is nothing but a blacktop on the streets I clear … . I don't want people getting hurt."


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