Sunday, the mayor's office jubilantly announced that normal trash collection would resume Monday. I am curious to know how that worked out for everyone who had trash collection yesterday. Because in my alley, there are 18" of glorious, untracked snow. At least there were as of yesterday morning. As of this morning, it was more like 12" of glorious untracked snow, with 3" of ice melt that had refrozen into a spectacular impenetrable shell.
Today, that question has been answered by DDOT. I received this little note by way of the Ward One DC mailing list:
I am having a hard time getting my head around these two seemingly diametrically opposed notions.
(Washington, D.C.) – The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Department of Public Works (DPW) want to remind residents that as a policy the District does not plow alleys.
“The District does not plow alleys,” said DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr. “We do not have the resources and in the majority of the alleys there is no place to push the snow. It would be too difficult and labor intensive to plow any type of alley, whether narrow or wide, in the District.”
DC does not plow alleys.
Normal trash collection will resume Monday.
Umm... anyway... where was I? Oh yes. Garbage trucks in unplowed alleys. Alleys which, actually, DC has not only not yet plowed, but has no intention of plowing.
Yesterday I complained about the fact that many side streets near where I live had apparently not yet been plowed. DC has an online snow-plow tracking tool that is actually very cool. It will show you where snow plows went interactively using a time-lapse map. It also confirms that a lot of Petworth was not plowed at all.
But here's what I don't get. In the press release reminding us that the alleys are not (and will not) be plowed, they said:
“We are receiving numerous requests from residents, higher than in years past,” said DDOT Director Gabe Klein. “Our crews are focused on clearing the District’s 1100 miles of roadway, in particular the residential and side streets. We just do not have the resources to plow alleys.”This note was interesting for several reasons.
- Why are residents higher than in years past? Is marijuana use on the rise in DC? Or is it the quality of weed that's improving?
- So, you are basically admitting that more than two days after the snow stopped, you still haven't cleared all the roads.
- DC has 1,100 miles of roadways. That's a lot, but actually less than I would have guessed. Very useful information.
DDOT's web site says that "The District has 330 pieces of equipment and 750 personnel available for any given storm. This includes additional contract plows, if necessary, for major weather events."
So we have 330 snow plows and 1100 miles of roadway.
That means that if we mobilized all the snow plows, and each of them plowed one mile of road every 30 minutes (which seems like a pretty conservative estimate), then every single mile of road in DC could be covered in about, oh, two hours.
Let's account for mismanagement and bad routing and double that, to four hours.
Let's account for half of the snowplows being broken down and double that, to eight hours.
I am really trying hard to think of other reasons to add more time to this estimate, but I can't come up with any. DC should be able to go over every inch of road in this city in eight hours maximum.
It is now approximately 50 hours since the last snowflake has fallen.
Can you tell me again why you are too busy to plow the alleys? Actually, never mind the alleys. Why I am still driving on 4" of hard packed snow and ice until I get to 16th Street?