Snow knocks out D.C. plows

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Local,DC,Transportation,Markham Heid

The weekend's snowstorm knocked out more than a quarter of the District's snowplows, as road crews hustled to prepare for winter's next onslaught facing "tired" equipment and shrinking salt supplies.

"At one point we did have about 25 percent of our equipment down, but we're working on getting some of that back out," said John Lisle, a spokesman with the D.C. Department of Transportation.

Lisle said the District's full force of 270 pieces of snow removal equipment had been whittled down to roughly 200 vehicles, as many snowplows suffered from salt spreader malfunctions.

He said his department hoped to have no fewer than 30 of the downed machines back on the road to combat the next round of snow. WTOP radio first reported the District's equipment problems.

Meteorologists are forecasting an additional 7 to 14 inches of snow for the Washington area between Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

Other transportation officials voiced similar snowplow woes.

"Our equipment is tired, our people are tired," said Joan Morris, a spokeswoman with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

She also expressed area-wide concerns about road salt supplies.

"We don't have as much [salt] as we would like," she said. "It's not ideal, but that is the situation we're in, and D.C. is in, and Maryland is in. We're all in the same boat."

Or rather, they're all waiting for the same boat.

About 46,000 tons of salt arrived at the Port of Baltimore on Monday, but with so many agencies in need of reinforcements, shortages are likely.

Lisle said the District's salt supplies were "significantly depleted," but he hoped the 9,000 tons currently on hand would be bolstered by a shipment scheduled to arrive from a Baltimore-area distributor Tuesday night.

"We're expecting, I believe, about 32,000 tons more," Lisle said. "But there might be some rationing going on at the distributor."

Maryland transportation spokesman Charlie Gischlar said his department had begun to ration supplies, but the state should have enough to combat the next batch of snows.

mheid@washingtonexaminer.com

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Markham Heid

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner