Readying for Winter

Published on December 08, 2021


Despite predictions for another below-average snowfall this winter, the County can’t stray from a solid-if-not-frozen annual strategy: Prepare for whatever nature may drop.

Commuters can take comfort knowing a big County response of almost 50 trucks – plus additional contractors – can roll in case forecasters are wrong at any point in coming months.

Using Fresh Data on the Roads

This season the County is incorporating Virginia's new Salt Management Strategy, aimed at bolstering protections for the region’s watershed. Arlington crews will use real-time loading data and improved calibration technology for more efficient and effective road salt deployment. This follows recent upgrades in Arlington’s entire brine pretreatment system, which included replacing four aging 5000-gallon holding tanks. Six additional electric salt spreaders were added to the fleet.

If a winter event means bringing in contractor support, those vehicles will now carry the same wireless mobile tracking units used by Arlington trucks to feed the online, near real-time storm response map, available to the public from any web device.

Watching the Response

The County’s live storm map offers a simple but handy display of response progress, with each pass along a thoroughfare represented by a line that becomes heavier with each return. As response efforts expand, more roads will show activity from main priority arterials into neighborhoods.

snow map.png For overall safety, the map will never declare a street officially "cleared" or "passable." Users see a basic predictive tracker of progress and should use other sources including news and social media, to get a more complete take on conditions. The County’s live-streaming traffic cameras are incorporated in the map for bird’s-eye visuals across Arlington.

Extreme caution is always advised during and in the hours after a storm, when unessential travel should be postponed.

Linked from the map, the County’s online Snow Issues Form will be activated only after snow has stopped so users can report trouble spots on streets, sidewalks and trails. Photos can be uploaded to better help dispatchers and crews find an issue.

State Roads in Arlington

Storm response on roadways maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, including Glebe Road, Washington Boulevard and Langston Boulevard, will not appear on the Arlington snow map. See state roads in Arlington maintained by VDOT.

Before, During and After the Storm

Arlington snow operations involve multiple departments plus external partners, making for a non-stop response force of several hundred people working in shifts to maintain core services. For the second winter in a row, COVID precautions call for masks when necessary, disinfecting vehicles between shifts, staggered shift start times to reduce in-person interactions.

As always, a winter weather alert of snow, ice or freezing rain sets crews in motion according to an established set of pretreatment and removal phases.

The County is responsible for clearing:

  • 1,059 miles of roadway
  • 350 bus shelters and stops
  • 35 miles of sidewalks in shared public areas
  • 21 bridges and overpasses
  • 10 miles of trails (Department of Parks & Recreation)
  • 6 miles of protected bike lanes.

Arlington is committed to a range of year-round transportation options and treats high-volume trails with the same priority and response time as primary arterial streets. Trail and lane conditions are reported frequently by BikeArlington on social media.

How You Can Help

Arlington residents play a key role in recovery after a winter storm. The County’s Snow Removal Ordinance requires all property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after the end of the storm for snowfalls of less than 6 inches, or 36 hours for those greater than 6 inches.

Other ways to assist:

  • Coordinate with neighbors to park cars on one side of the street, where feasible, or avoid on-street parking so plow operators can efficiently clear a wider span of roadway
  • Don’t park “head in” on cul-de-sacs, allowing plows more room to maneuver
  • Clear sidewalks, fire hydrants and storm drains, tossing snow toward buildings, not the street, BUT
  • Wait for plows to come by before clearing snow from the front of driveways, to minimize the amount pushed back by plows
  • Stay home and out of the car or use mass transit to reduce the number of potentially stranded vehicles
  • Apply only the recommended minimum of chemical de-icers on sidewalks and driveways

Stay connected through the County’s Snow and Ice page and DES social media platforms for updates on snow phases, transportation, trash and other important notifications. Follow @ArlingtonDES  on Twitter and Facebook.

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