Washington's unwanted snow has to go somewhere as deposits spring up

Snow that can't be plowed aside or melted is trucked away and dumped in parking lots, open lots, and under bridges in D.C. and Virginia.
By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A new mountain range is rising near the shores of the Anacostia River -- its grimy peaks circled by hungry seagulls, its icy surface scrutinized by crows from nearby trees.

It is a man-made range, tended Tuesday by Jabar L. Brown, 29, of the District's Department of Public Works, and his big yellow front-end loader.

It is made of snow. Nasty snow.

And with Wednesday's forecast, it seems sure to get bigger.

Across the region, local governments are grappling with the sheer volume of snow that is falling on Washington and its environs.

Only so much can be plowed or piled. Many places, such as highways, have limited room for plowed and piled snow. The rest must be moved or liquefied.

Since the weekend, truckloads of snow have been hauled away and deposited in snow dumps throughout the area. The District has been using 15 trucks to haul its excess snow to a parking lot on the campus of the old D.C. General Hospital, south of RFK Stadium, near the office of the city's Chief Medical Examiner.

The mounds -- about 20 feet high and 50 yards long -- are growing so large that William O. Howland Jr., head of the Department of Public Works, joked the other day that soon people might be able to ski there.

"You can," Brown said on Tuesday, chuckling as he stood beside the mounds. "If you want me to, I can pull it back and slope it off for you. You could definitely come and have a good time."

The site, a slushy lot surrounded by bare trees, would be a dreary venue, though, with the gulls and cackling crows the only spectators.

"You can only imagine how long it's going to take for this snow to actually melt," Brown said. "That's why we've been hauling it in bulk like this as if it was actually waste. . . . If you just try to push it to the side and [let] it sit, you're going to have piles like this all around the city.

"You don't want nothing like that just sitting on the corner," he said.

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