- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

Advance planning by airports and rail services kept airplanes and passenger trains operating with only minor delays yesterday during the Washington area’s biggest snowstorm of the season so far.

Some government and business employees were given the option of staying at home.

All three airports in the Washington area remained open.

Work crews stayed out all night clearing runways as snow accumulated at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

“The airports were open and operating on time,” said Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages Reagan Airport and Dulles Airport.

However, some flights at other cities — such as Chicago, Philadelphia and New York — were delayed, which caused delays and cancellations to ripple through the air transportation system.

As a result, “We advise passengers to contact their individual airline before heading out to the airport” today to make certain their flights are on time, said Holly Ellison, BWI spokeswoman.

Airport officials also recommend leaving a little extra driving time today because of predicted icy, windy conditions on roadways, temperatures expected to rise no higher than freezing and a wintry mix of precipitation.

Amtrak trains operated on regular schedules along the Northeast Corridor.

Before the snow arrived, Amtrak crews loaded trains with de-icer, sand and shovels. They also checked heaters on switches to make sure they did not freeze.

Crews were stationed at intervals along rail lines to take care of any ice accumulations on overhead electrical lines, or catenaries, that power the trains.

Virginia Railway Express commuter trains also ran on regular schedules yesterday.

“We had no problems this morning,” said Mark Rober, VRE spokesman. “We ran somewhere around 70 percent of our normal load capacity.”

The number of riders was down because of school closings and liberal leave given to government workers, he said.

Maryland Rail Commuter’s Penn Line operated on a normal schedule, but service on the Camden and Brunswick lines was scaled back to a holiday schedule.

U.S. government offices in Washington remained open but on an “unscheduled-leave basis” for employees who had difficulty making it to work.

The Office of Personnel Management gave government employees the option of using leave they had accumulated instead of risking a commute in the snow.

The D.C. government followed a liberal leave policy that allowed employees to take the day off without early notice to supervisors.

Nevertheless, enough D.C. government employees showed up for work that all offices were operating normally, according to D.C. government officials.

“We’re up and running,” said Randi Blank, D.C. Office of Personnel spokeswoman.

Large employers in the Washington area also reported only minor weather problems.

“People were taking a little bit longer to get into the office, but they made it,” said Randy Belote, spokesman for Northrop Grumman Corp., a defense contractor that employs about 26,000 people in the Washington area. “Consequently, the weather did not affect our normal operations.”

The AFL-CIO, which employs several hundred workers at its downtown office, instituted a liberal leave policy but experienced no interruption in business.

“We’ve been functioning all day,” said Lane Windham, AFL-CIO spokeswoman.

Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp., which employs about 13,000 workers in the Washington area, allowed employees who had difficulty making it to work to telecommute.

“We got contingency plans for any weather-related issue,” said Jeff Adams, Lockheed Martin spokesman. “We continue to conduct business as needed.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide