Over the past few years, we were beginning to think that Arlington was getting the hang of decent snow removal. Well, think again!
Above are photos of our street--just four blocks from Arlington's government complex at Courthouse Plaza--a full three days after the storm finished.
It's not for lack of effort--we know that Arlington's road crews have been working 12-hour shifts since the snow began Friday night. Part of the problem, however, is a shortsighted approach to plowing streets during and immediatley after a major storm that then leads to bigger problems down the road.
The basic approach to plowing in Arlington is to create a single lane down the middle of a road, rather than plowing curb to curb. Of course, in many areas it is impossible to plow curb-to-curb because Arlington has no snow emergency regulations that keep cars out of curb lanes. But even where there are now parked cars, the plowing is usually confined to a single lane.
This approach, of course, means that snow is piled up IN THE ROAD on the days after the storm, where it often gets a hard freeze, making later removal much more difficult.
Arlington needs to get serious about snow removal, especially this year. There's an excellent chance that this won't be the last major winter snowstorm of the season--indeed, the Capital Weather Gang blog at the Washington Post had an excellent discussion of the factors that created this blizzard and the likelihood that those conditions will persist for much of the rest of this winter. If that happens, we're going to need a much better response.
Needless to say, there are many cities in the northeastern and midwestern U.S. that are larger and more complex than Arlington, and that are able to deal with snow of this magnitude without closing down for several days.
As for Arlington schools, winter has just begun and they've already eaten up three snow days. It easily could've been more--if the storm had started last Sunday night, instead of on a Friday night, they would have lost an entire week. The schools don't have much of a plan in place either--they could easily assign alternate bus routes that stick to major roads, but they insist on a lowest common denominator approach--if there is one hilly street with ice on it, then it's too dangerous to send the kids to school. A couple more storms like this one and the kids will still be in school come July!
Anyway, it will be nice--we guess--to have a white Christmas. Happy Holidays everyone!!