Lauryn Ricketts

Traffic Troubles Dominate as Commuters Return to Work After Blizzard

D.C.'s snow emergency will remain in effect though Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

Piled-up snow is leading to major delays around the D.C. area as thousands of people hit the roads for the first time since a historic storm dumped 2 to 3 feet of snow on the region. 

Drivers have reported notably longer commutes as they travel on roads with reduced numbers of lanes.

"Going on one hour trying to get from Rockville to Fairfax and still stuck in MD. It's not rush hour. It's noon," tweeted driver Joshua DeLung.

During Wednesday morning's commute, delays were reported around the region.

Massachusetts Avenue was jammed near Westbard Avenue, where traffic was getting through on just one lane because of the snow. In Northern Virginia, 236 East at Braddock Road had two right lanes still covered with snow.

Buses were experiencing up to 45-minute delays system-wide Wednesday morning, and snow cleanup efforts led to the closing of Rock Creek Parkway on Wednesday through 3 p.m.

Authorities are also warning drivers to beware of pedestrians.

"Most sidewalks are covered in snow. Drivers, look out for pedestrians near bus stops," Fairfax County Police posted on Twitter.

As if all that's not enough, potholes are starting to become a big problem again this season, as the region gets into a freeze/thaw cycle. On Williamsburg Boulevard in north Arlington, a portion of the road is actually coming apart.

"Yeah, that caught me off guard," one driver said. "That's never fun. But I guess there's going to be a lot of that."

Four accidents involving tractor trailers also snarled traffic during Wednesday morning's commute.

A collision involving three tractor trailers shut down the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway early Wednesday morning. The accident happened near Braddock Road in Virginia. While melting snow has left many area roads slick, police have not said what caused the crash. The lanes reopened just after 6:30 a.m.

A tractor trailer crash also tied up traffic on the Outer Loop after the Dulles Toll Road. At 7 a.m., only one lane of traffic was getting by. 

In Maryland, a jackknifed tractor trailer closed the local lanes of I-270 southbound at Montrose Road. A 2-mile backup is being reported in the main lanes. HOV restrictions have been lifted since the local lanes are closed. 

A second jackknifed tractor trailer caused a 7-mile backup in the southbound lanes of I-270 at Old Hundred Road. 

The delays came as thousands of people return to work and school in Washington, D.C. Wednesday. 

Federal offices reopened on a three-hour delay, after offices opened late Friday and were closed Monday and Tuesday.

D.C. public school students headed back to class Wednesday, but most other schools across the region remained closed Wednesday.

Metrorail service has been fully restored -- even on the Silver Line. Trains running every 8 minutes starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday. Metro said extensive snow and ice removal over the previous 48 hours allowed them to open the final five stations on the Silver Line.

But some residents still can't leave their neighborhoods because snow plows have yet to reach them. 

"[S]till no plow and now icy! Ridiculous. S 23rd & S Garfield Sts in Arlington," @KTMaloneDC tweeted Wednesday morning, sharing a photo of a snow-covered street.

"#SnowStuck Germantown Md. Residents have had no relief on Waterford Hills boulevard," @BpsDai tweeted.

On social media, Prince George's County shared an online snow removal request form, and Montgomery County said its crews are plowing and hauling snow "24/7, working hard to get to you as fast as they can." However, officials have asked residents to be patient.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Tuesday crews have "gotten down to asphalt on all major arteries" and were continuing to plow District neighborhoods nonstop.

"Although there are still some areas we're working really hard on, we have also started to tackle the hardest-to-reach streets," she said.

Bowser urged residents to shovel their sidewalks if they haven't already. She also reminded business owners that they're required by law to remove snow from their sidewalks, and they are beyond the deadline to do so.

"We will begin to enforce the commercial sidewalk snow-clearing provisions of the law, so you must get out and remove snow from your sidewalks immediately," she told business owners.

D.C.'s snow emergency will remain in effect though Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Vehicles parked or abandoned on any snow emergency route, or considered to be road hazards, are being towed at the owner's expense. Cars parked in a traffic lane on any road, and are deemed a hazard or a barrier to snow removal, may also be towed.

Violators face a $250 ticket, a $100 tow and a $25-per-day fee until they pick up their vehicles. 

"Don't park your car illegally, and that includes parking it kind of in the middle of the street next to the snow bank," Bowser said Tuesday. Cars should be parked no more than 12 inches from a curb, not a snow bank, or drivers risk a ticket.

Garbage pickup in D.C. is suspended through Wednesday, Bowser said. 

"We hope to resume regular trash pickup on Thursday," she said. 

This storm will easily rank among the region's five worst, and the cleanup will likely to take days, Storm Team4 said. Temperatures across the area plummeted overnight, creating icy conditions on many of the region's roads Monday.

Updates on Travel by Train, Bus and Taxi

MARC trains are running Wednesday on a limited schedule, officials said Tuesday evening. The Penn Line that runs between D.C. and Baltimore will operate on an "S" weekday schedule. See the Maryland Transit Administration's website.

VRE resumed normal service Wednesday, officials said Tuesday evening. See VRE's website.

Amtrak restored regular service Wednesday between D.C. and New York, officials announced Tuesday afternoon. Click here for the latest Amtrak information.

D.C. taxicabs are still charing a $15 snow emergency surcharge. The fee will expire Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., officials said.

Historic Amounts of Snowfall

In Frederick County, Maryland, some places saw an astonishing 38 inches of snow, the National Weather Service reported. Jones Springs, West Virginia, had 39 inches.

But places closer to the metro area saw feet of snow as well: More than 36 inches of snow fell in north Potomac, Maryland. More than 29 inches fell in Centreville, Virginia.

And more than 22 inches of snow fell at the National Zoo in Northwest D.C. 

For reference, the December 2009 and February 2010 snowstorms, popularly called "Snowpocalypse" and "Snowmageddon," clocked in at 16.4 inches and 17.8 inches, respectively.

Help for Those Needing Shelter
Be on the lookout for homeless people, who could get hypothermia during this cold spell. If you see someone in the D.C. area who needs shelter or warmer clothing, call the following numbers: 

  • The District: 202-399-7093 or 311 if calling within the city
  • Arlington County: 703-228-1010 (24 hours)
  • Fairfax County: 703-691-2131 (police non-emergency line)
  • Montgomery County: 311 if calling within the county
  • Prince George's County: 888-731-0999 

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