(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Department of Public Works Acting Director Christopher J. Shorter, District Department of Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo and Serve DC Executive Director Kristal Knight kicked off the District's 2015-2016 snow season at the annual snow Dry Run exercise at the Farragut Salt Dome in Northeast Washington, DC. The Snow and Ice Removal Program’s goal is to make the District's streets safe for travel and restore normal traffic flow as soon as possible after a snow event.
"With winter around the corner, today's dry run gives us a chance to plan, prepare and practice for snow events," said Mayor Bowser. "We've taken a close look at previous snow seasons and improved on them. This year, we are deploying more resources earlier, and re-launching the Resident Snow Team to recruit volunteers to help elderly and disabled residents clear snow."
This year's Snow and Ice Removal Program features:
- 15 additional rented plows
- 14 new heavy plow trucks for larger streets and six new light plows for smaller, residential streets
- 2,000 tons of salt held in reserve above the city's 39,000 ton capacity
- New technology to track the plows and new traffic cameras to monitor progress
The 800+ members of the DC Snow Team (DPW, DDOT and other agencies) participated in the Dry Run training event to prepare for snow management, proper handling of materials, equipment maintenance, and equipment operation. Plow drivers navigated through their routes, checking for steel plates, potholes and other obstacles that might be covered during a snow event. Other staff, including administrative, supervisory, logistics and IT employees practiced their functions at their sites, including the salt domes.
"The DC Snow Team began preparing for winter weather this spring," said DPW Acting Director Shorter. "We evaluated last snow season's operations as part of our continuous improvement effort. Our plow drivers and other staff participated in training exercises to hone their skills, and that brings us to today when everyone participates in a simulated snow event."
Director Shorter also reminded residents that snow season and leaf collection season, which begins November 2, occur simultaneously. He said that leaf collection will be suspended if snow or ice are predicted, because the people who collect leaves are the backbone of the snow program.
"The best way to cope with severe weather is to plan ahead. That's what makes today's dry run such an important exercise for the District Snow Team," said DDOT Director Leif A. Dormsjo. "We use this event to fine tune months of preparation, with the goal of delivering safe streets to the traveling public when snow and ice arrive."
Mayor Bowser also encouraged residents to volunteer for the Resident Snow Team, a coalition of community members who help shovel snow for seniors and residents with disabilities across all eight wards.
"For many of us, the snow is an inconvenience. But for the elderly and disabled, snow can mean that residents are unable to leave their house, even during a minor event. That's why we are launching an effort to recruit 2,500 volunteers for the Resident Snow Team," said Mayor Bowser. "Together, we will ensure that the District is safe and open for business as soon as possible during a snow event.”
To sign up as a volunteer for the Resident Snow Team, visit snowteam.dc.gov. District residents who may need help with snow removal should call 311.