NWS: WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for MC 6:00 am until 2:00 pm 3/7. Travel may become hazardous.
For DC, late tonight until midday Wednesday. Travel may become hazardous.
WASHINGTON – Maryland highway officials apologized Tuesday after several people living along Interstate 270 in Rockville and Germantown reported their windows were broken late last week by ice and rocks that apparently came over the highway’s 20-foot tall sound barrier.
“This is not normal, it’s not acceptable, and we believe it was a contractor using a snow thrower, so for anybody who’s had damages to their home or property, they can file a claim to get reimbursed,” says Valerie Burnette Edgar with the State Highway Administration.
These types of insurance claims are handled through the Maryland State Treasurer’s Office, using a “Notice of Claim” form.
Homeowners with damage can also call the Treasurer’s Office at 800-942-0162.
“If it is indeed, we believe, our contractor, the state will seek to get the damages covered by the contractor,” Burnette Edgar says.
About 70 percent of SHA snow-removal workers are part of contract crews who go through much of the same training that state employees do.
“We’re also going to take a look at what happened, and make sure we work with the contractor and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she says.
Normally, Burnette Edgar says extra snow would be pushed onto wide shoulders, space between the highway and ramps or other spaces, but the overwhelming amount of snow led to the use of snow blowers to keep the pavement clear for drivers.
“Snow piled up in a big mound on the side of the road is a hazard, so they needed to get that off the shoulders and out of the way, particularly on a high-speed interstate. It’s obviously not acceptable to have it go into a residential area like that, and we truly regret and apologize for that inconvenience and problem for the residents,” she says.
In Rockville, Mary Plummer said it sounded like an avalanche.
In Germantown, Joseph Belcher and his wife Kristi say their 3-year-old son was right next to a window when the rocks came flying.
Burnette Edgar says SHA is not aware of any similar reports of issues on any other interstates or other state roads during the recent storms.
“Thus far, it seems to be an isolated incident along I-270. Every storm where we get a lot of accumulation, there’s some mailboxes and things like that that we have to repair, and we just ask for patience, and that you please file a claim with us,” she says.
Some of those smaller claims can be submitted through the SHA’s own online form. But that is not considered valid notice to the state for anyone who may be interested in filing an insurance claim through the Treasurer’s Office.
You may be clearing your driveway before the plow reaches your street. Push snow to the right, so plows won’t cover your work. (Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)
Most people in the D.C. region will begin their post-storm travels as pedestrians, whether they like it or not. Here are some tips for getting around.
Clearing sidewalks. Rules vary, but most jurisdictions expect property owners to get out within a certain number of hours and clear their sidewalks. The District, for example, has a rule that sidewalks should be cleared of snow and ice within eight hours after the end of a storm. They don’t expect you to throw the snow in the street. When clearing driveways, toss the snow to the right. That makes it less likely the plow will push that snow back across the driveway entrance.
When clearing your own sidewalk, think about neighbors who may be elderly or disabled, and save a little energy for their walkways.
Metro doesn’t clear the bus stops or the areas around them. Metro does clear areas around rail station entrances and the above-ground platforms. Some platforms have a new type of paving tile that is less slippery, but some still have the original, slip-prone paving tiles.
Before starting to clear snow, try using Pam or car wax on the shovel blade, so the snow will slide off more easily. With a heavy snow like this, give your back a break by skimming off a top layer first, then making a second scoop down to the pavement. Think twice about parking in a street space your neighbor just cleared out. That probably won’t end well.
If you are driving, be extra careful of pedestrians. They’re more likely to be walking in the streets in the immediate aftermath of a storm.
Highway departments generally don’t clear bike paths.
Clearing streets. Much of the clearing work goes to contractors, whose trucks might not bear the emblem of the agency that hired them. The D.C. departments of public works and transportation team up on street clearing in the city. The Virginia Department of Transportation takes care of interstates, main roads and neighborhood streets within its turf. The Maryland State Highway Administration handles the state’s numbered roads, while counties and municipalities take care of the rest.
Highways in the D.C. area are in much better shape as of 10:45 a.m. than they were at dawn, but road surface conditions vary a lot across the region. Many drivers will have difficulty getting out of their neighborhoods. The initial goal for the plows working the neighborhood streets is to make them “passable.” That doesn’t mean you’ll see bare pavement soon.
If you are planning to drive to an airport in the D.C. area, be sure to check on your flight first. Many Thursday flights from Dulles, Reagan National and BWI airports have been cancelled.
Snow emergency routes. Some jurisdictions require owners to get their vehicles off snow emergency routes after the jurisdiction declares an emergency. This affects many District residents, where the Public Works Department tows vehicles remaining on those routes and imposes stiff fines.
Waiting for transit. Most of the D.C. region’s bus systems suspended service for Thursday morning. So did MetroAccess, the paratransit service. Watch for updates on restoration. This is the link to The Post’s storm updates. Metrobus’s Next Bus system, designed to provide real-time information on when the bus should arrive at your stop, doesn’t perform well during weather disruptions. So even as bus service is restored, don’t count on the accuracy of the prediction system.