DC's Snow Melter M.I.A.

$120K snowbot not used in snow removal effort

In Baltimore last week, city workers hauled out a massive snow melting machine to clear tons of snow from city streets, and it was a great help.

So some people are wondering what happened to the District’s snow melter, which has been missing in action during our record snow storms.

Some of you may remember the noisy, industrial size heater. The D.C. snow melter was an emergency city purchase in 2003, brought in from Nova Scotia and set up at 17th and I streets to help clear the snow downtown.

The $120,000 snowbot could take 10 dump truck loads at a time and was pretty efficient, even though it broke down at least once during operation.

News4 went searching Monday for the snow melter, said to be sitting idle on a West Virginia Avenue motor pool and repair lot in northeast Washington, but it was hidden from view.

City officials declined a request for an on-camera interview, saying in a statement the snow melter needed parts, was difficult to operate and wasn't worth using again.  So it sits on the city's public works lot.

And just to make it more mysterious, the city government refused the News4 request to photograph it, though a source provided a couple of pictures of the machine.

The mystery may be solved Friday. Ward 1 Council member Jim Graham, who heads the Public Works Committee, said he's had so many questions about the snow melter that's he's going to make it a focus of his hearing on the city's snow removal efforts.

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