County Council Members Call Highway Services’ Work During December’s Blizzard “Terrific,” ”Exemplary”

At a January 12 County Council Transportation and Environment Committee meeting, Council members praised the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) hard work in clearing December’s record 24-inch snowfall in record time.

 The National Weather Service declared that the December 19 blizzard dumped the most snow for a single storm ever recorded in Montgomery County.   Yet, within 55 hours of the end of the storm, every one of the County’s more than 5,000 lane miles of road that the Division of Highway Services (DHS) clears had been made passable. 

Council Vice President Valerie Ervin told DOT Director Art Holmes, Deputy Director Al Roshdieh and DHS Chief Keith Compton that she “never had such great removal on my street.”  DHS did “fantastic work, and we thank you for that.  ….. It was exemplary.”  

Council President Nancy Floreen echoed Ms. Ervin’s statement, saying “terrific job” and “We should all be very proud.”

Councilmember Roger Berliner told DOT staff, “Many of you didn’t stop for four days….. I know how hard you worked…. This was an unprecedented level of snow.”

Councilmember Nancy Navarro said she wanted to “express gratitude for the very hard work you did… in this unprecedented blizzard.  I appreciate the support you gave us.”

The last comparable snowfall that occurred was in 1996.  During that storm, DHS fielded more than 10,000 resident calls for service.   During December’s storm, DHS received about 1,000 calls.

Compton talked about the challenges that the December storm posed.  At times, more than 1.5 inches of snow fell each hour, requiring DHS to replow main roads and emergency routes more than five times.  Winds created snow drifts up to three feet and blew recently plowed snow back onto cleared roads.  Compton told Council members that his crews and contractors used more than 500 pieces of equipment, worked non-stop for four days, and drove more than 18,000 miles. 

Compton explained that many of the calls from residents originated because they expect neighborhood streets to be plowed to bare pavement.  Although emergency routes, main roads and arterial roads are cleared to bare pavement, DHS’s policy is to make neighborhood roads passable.  Even if it were possible to obtain more snow removal equipment, trying to clear neighborhood roads to bare pavement would cause much greater environmental damage from salt and abrasives, quadruple costs and significantly delay plowing of all neighborhoods.

See the powerpoint presentation (pdf) of procedures executed during the blizzard, and view video (wmv) of brief to Council.

POSTED AT: Friday, January 22, 2010 | 5:00:00 PM |
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