Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow Removal Update: What to Expect This Weekend in Montgomery County

The two back-to-back blizzards in Montgomery County this week buried our area in more than three-and-one-half feet of snow, and the extreme wind conditions on Wednesday produced snow drifts of up to 16 feet in the upper part of the County. Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has responded to this record storm by mobilizing an unprecedented 1,200 pieces of equipment for snow removal, and crews have been working non-stop for more than a week and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Here’s What DOT Has Done:
Cleared Primary and Secondary Roads Through Plowing and Snow Removal.
 Because of the historic amount of snow that must be cleared, DOT is conducting two different snow removal operations. In some areas, crews are plowing snow. In the more urbanized areas where there is inadequate space to pile up plowed snow, DOT is actually removing snow by loading it into dump trucks and hauling it away. This is an extremely time and resource intensive job that will take much longer than typical plowing operations.
Begun Clearing Neighborhood Streets. Many residents are understandably frustrated by the huge snowfalls and are eager to get out of their neighborhoods and resume their normal activities. Typically, it takes DOT 60 hours after a snowfall ends to clear the County’s roads of a 24-inch snowfall. Yet, just 24 hours after the end of Wednesday’s blizzard, DOT has brought primary and secondary roads to relatively good condition and is already clearing neighborhood streets.
Ensured Emergency Services are Able to Reach Residents.  DOT snow plow operators continue to escort Police, Fire and Rescue and others to ensure they have access to residents who call with an emergency.
Aided in Getting Power Restored to Residents. DOT snow plows also accompanied PEPCO repair crews to make sure they could get to areas without power.

Here’s What to Expect This Weekend:
Business District Snow Removal.  Crews will begin removing snow in the business districts in Silver Spring, Wheaton and Bethesda.
Continue Operations on Neighborhood Streets. Crews will continue to clear neighborhood streets.
Return to Remove More Snow from All Roads. Crews will go back to primary, secondary and neighborhood roads to remove additional snow.

Some Facts to Help Understand DOT’s Operations:
DOT clears more than 5,000 lane miles
 of road in Montgomery County.
The State Highway Administration clears all numbered roads in the County, which includes major arteries, such as Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike, Georgia Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, etc.
Major municipalities, such as Rockville and Gaithersburg, clear the roads within their jurisdictions.
DOT’s first priority in clearing roads is to remove snow from emergency routes and primary roads (main and divided highways such as Montrose Road or Norbeck Road).
Next, secondary roads are cleared, which are the main roads within neighborhoods. Residents may become understandably concerned that their street has been missed when secondary roads just a couple blocks away have been cleared and their road has not. However, all secondary roads must be cleared before any work on residential streets can begin because otherwise, residents driving out of their neighborhoods will have no access to main roads.
DOT’s policy about clearing roads is that primary and secondary roads are generally cleared to bare pavement. Neighborhood roads are not. Instead, they are made passable.

What Residents Can Do:
Be patient.
The county remains under a Snow Emergency Plan, which means there is no parking on roads designated by red and white snow emergency signs.
Give crews an opportunity to reach neighborhood streets over the next two days.
Residents may contact Highway Services at 240-777-6000 or if they believe their street has been missed. 

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