- Simulator safety training for snow plow operators
- Snow will be removed from heavily used trail segments
- Pilot program to maintain cycle tracks this winter
- Visit “Snow and Ice Central”
Arlington County is gearing up for the 2014-2015 winter season. As temperatures drop, residents have many ways to stay informed before, during and after a winter storm, starting with the County’s Snow and Ice Central webpage.
New this year: Arlington used pre-season simulator training to enhance safety awareness among our snow plow operators. The County also is the first jurisdiction in the region to commit to clearing snow from heavily used multi-use trails.
Snow team ready to go
Once the forecast calls for snow, ice or freezing rain, Arlington preps its plows and salt trucks, and the snow team is ready to respond.
Before a snow fall, the County and the Virginia Department of Transportation pre-treat main roadways with an environmentally-friendly salt brine solution. We use a liquid magnesium chloride and salt mixture in lower temperatures when it is most effective. When we need to use salt or sand, crews adjust equipment to ensure that only the necessary amount is dispensed.
During the storm, the County’s snow crews’ first priority is keeping main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation. The team includes 92 drivers, who use 46 trucks equipped with salt spreaders and plows.
Track snow removal progress
The County’s phased plowing system allows residents to track snow removal progress as they make travel decisions during winter weather. In a snow event, the current removal phase will be posted on the website and social media channels. For street snow removal updates, follow the Department of Environmental Services on Facebook and Twitter.
Traffic cameras monitor road conditions
Offering real-time views of road conditions at many intersections, the traffic camera webpage allows drivers to make informed decisions about traveling during a winter storm. The Snow and Ice Central page features 83 traffic cameras.
Now removing snow from multi-use trails
The County Board appropriated additional funding to the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to clear a few segments of bicycle and pedestrian trails this snow season. DPR always clears trails after a snow event, but with the additional funding, this year’s goal is to give the most heavily used County trails the same priority and response time as primary (red) arterial streets. Because the ease of snow removal can vary greatly from one event to the next, the actual response time and trail conditions will vary.
DPR plans to treat and clear up to 10 miles of high-volume trails this snow season. Trails we will target include:
- 5.2 miles of the Custis Trail from Lynn Street to W&OD Trail (Washington & Old Dominion)
- 1.25 miles of the Bluemont Junction Trail from Fairfax Drive to W&OD Trail
- 2.25 miles of Four Mile Run Trail from National Airport to Shirlington Road
- 0.4 miles of Route 110 Trail between Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington Cemetery
Trail clearing information will be posted through regular County snow communication channels as well as on the BikeArlington Forum. The BikeArlington website also has additional information on safe riding in the snow.
Pilot program to maintain cycle tracks this winter
The Department of Environmental Services will conduct a pilot program this winter season to remove snow from the County’s protected bike lanes (also known as cycle tracks). The goal is to maintain the cycle tracks by pre-treating with a salt-brine solution and plowing the snow using specialized equipment.
In a snow event, operations will take place primarily during the day. The response time may vary depending on weather conditions. Additional funding has been requested to expand the program in the coming years and acquire necessary equipment.
Cyclists should continue to exercise extra caution in wintry conditions. For safety tips, please visit BikeArlington.
Simulator training to increase safety awareness
More than 100 snow plow operators have received simulator training to prepare for severe winter weather. The computer-based training increases safety awareness and prepares drivers to handle potentially hazardous situations well before the first snow flake hits the ground.
In addition to the simulator, operators go through regular class instruction and then take the snow plows on the road for hands-on training in mid-November.
How residents can help
Please remember that the County’s Snow Removal Ordinance requires all Arlington property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within a designated time period. To learn more, visit the Snow Ordinance webpage. There are other ways residents can assist us with snow removal efforts, including:
- Parking cars off the road and avoiding on-street parking to improve the ability of snowplow operators to clear more of the streets.
- Avoiding parking on snow emergency routes, which can be subject to fines and towing.
- Clearing snow from driveways and entrances into your yard to minimize the amount of snow being pushed back into driveways by snow plows.
- Staying home or using mass transit to reduce the amount of stranded vehicles, which can slow down the clearing process.
Residents should report snow-related problems through the “Report a Snow Issue” form found on the Snow and Ice Central webpage.