DC Prepares for Feds' Return to Work

Area digs out from winter storm

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009  |  Updated 12:44 AM EDT
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Traffic officials want you to be aware of the dangers of black ice.

Traffic officials want you to be aware of the dangers of black ice.

Photos and Videos

Looking for a Way Out

Hundreds of stranded passengers settle in at the airport while trying to get to their destinations.

Plows Having Trouble Handling Side Streets

Accumulating ice has actually broken some plow equipment in the Washington region. More than half of residential areas in Prince George's County hadn't seen a plow by Monday night.
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D.C. will be ready when federal workers return to work after a storm dumped 18 inches of snow on the region, Mayor Adrian Fenty said.

Fenty said Monday that 330 plow trucks were deployed for the sixth time -- the city's largest deployment ever. Crews will work through the night as the city prepares for federal employees to return to work Tuesday.

Fenty said he noticed a marked difference as he drove around the city in the past 24 hours, with pavement becoming visible beneath the snow and multiple lanes of traffic opening up.

The D.C. Department of Public Works said it has issued 1,179 tickets for snow emergency violations, carrying a $250 fine, and towed more than 200 vehicles.

While non-emergency federal employees were granted excused absences, Maryland state workers got their liberal leave, except for essential emergency personnel, from 6 a.m. Monday until the end of the day shift.

The government spared their employees the treacherous roads. Virginia State Police said authorities handled more than 3,230 traffic crashes during the weekend storm, including at least 250 that resulted in personal injuries.

Between Friday and Sunday, authorities said state police received more than 16,000 phone calls as Virginians braved dangerous road conditions. Police also handled more than 3,500 disabled vehicles during the storm.

Of the seven reported deaths that occurred in Virginia during the winter storm, at this time two are confirmed as weather-related traffic fatalities.

The state's interstates and primary roads are mostly clear of snow and ice but highway officials said secondary routes are still dangerous. Much of the snow on secondary roads has changed to ice or become packed because of traffic and warmer temperatures. That's slowing efforts to clear these roads.

Despite reopened airports, travel wasn't much better for flyers. At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, people who arrived hours before their flights Monday ended up missing them while they waited in long lines to check their luggage.

Teresia Kamau and her 1-year-old daughter are two of them. Kamau said they would have been better off if they had spent the night at the airport. Some people did. National Airport handed out about 1,100 blankets to people who spent the night.

The lines to rebook flights are even longer than the luggage lines.

Officials at National, Dulles and BWI said planes are coming in and out for the most part on schedule.

The rails were sluggish, too. MARC trains are operating on a limited schedule because of lingering effects of the snow and the closure of federal government offices.

The S schedule was in effect Monday and Tuesday, meaning only trains with an S under the train number in the timetable operated.

Virginia Railway Express will continue operating on its limited S schedule Tuesday as well.

Amtrak said its operations on the northeast corridor were almost back to normal following the weekend's snowstorm.

Spokesman Steve Kulm said a handful of trains between Washington and Boston were canceled Monday, but the vast majority are running close to schedule.

December is a busy month for the railroad, but Kulm said Amtrak was able to take on additional travelers who showed up at train stations after flights were canceled during the storm.

The spokesman said snow on the tracks and frozen switches hampered operations over the weekend, but the railroad never had to shut down.
 

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