All Hands (and Plows) on Deck for Winter

Published on December 07, 2017

  • $1.439 million budgeted for snow removal
  • 9,200 tons of salt stockpiled
  • 1,950 of total training hours for snow crews

The weather predictions for this upcoming winter season may be uncertain, but Arlington County is focused and ready to take on whatever snow may come our way. Arlington crews have been preparing year-round to make sure they can quickly make Arlington's roads, sidewalks, bus stops and trails safe and passable after a winter event.

Before, during and after a storm

Snow operations include a number of agencies across the County, external partners and several hundred employees who work around-the-clock to keep our core infrastructure and services running. Once the forecast calls for winter weather — snow, ice or freezing rain — Arlington crews follow the snow removal process and phases.

  • Phase 1: Snow crews pre-treat main roads before a storm.
  • Phase 2: During the storm, the priority is to keep main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation.
  • Phase 3: Plowing of residential streets and trails begins. It's important to know that these streets may only be passable with one lane and you may not see bare pavement.
  • Phase 4: After the storm, cleanup operations begin, which includes treating ice on the roadways.

The County has budgeted $1.439 million for CY17-18 snow operations. The snow team includes 92 drivers and 46 trucks equipped with salt spreaders and plows. Additional contracting equipment is available depending upon the severity of the storm. Arlington has 9,200 tons of salt for roads stockpiled.

A multimodal approach

Our crews clear much more than just the snow off our streets to keep our community running for all users. In addition to the more than 1,000 lane miles of roadway, we clear nearly 350 transit bus stops and shelters, 35 miles of sidewalks and 21 pedestrian bridges or overpasses.

The County will continue to clear 10 miles of trails and 3 miles of protected bicycle lanes this snow season as part of our commitment to supporting a transportation system with a range of options. The goal is to ensure accessibility and safety for all types of travel throughout a winter event. Updates will be posted through regular County snow communication channels, as well as on the BikeArlington Forum

How you can help

Residents, too, play a role in dealing with the fallout of winter weather. The County's Snow Removal Ordinance requires all Arlington property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 (less than 6") or 36 (greater than 6") hours of snow fall cessation. Here are some other ways residents can help with our snow removal efforts:

  • Coordinate with neighbors to park cars on one side of the street, where feasible, or avoid on-street parking so snowplow operators can efficiently clear more of the streets
  • Don't park "head in" on cul-de-sacs so plows have more room to maneuver
  • Clear your sidewalks and scoop snow towards your house, not the street, BUT
  • Wait for snow plows to come by before clearing snow from the front of driveways, to minimize the amount pushed back by plows
  • Stay home, telework or use mass transit to reduce the number of potentially stranded vehicles
  • Apply only the recommended amount of chemical de-icers on sidewalks to attain a safe and passable way
  • Stay connected through our Snow and Ice Central webpage and our DES social media platforms for updates on snow phases, transportation, trash and other important notifications. Follow us on Twitter @ArlingtonDES and on Facebook at Arlington County Department of Environmental Services.

Residents should report snow-related problems through the "Report a Snow Issue" form found on the Snow and Ice Central webpage.