The Metro Board decided yesterday to spend almost $1 million on shovels, plows, scrapers and blowers to keep the subway tracks clear of snow next winter.
Even with the outside temperature in the high 80s and the inside temperature in the high 70s, the board members had little trouble remembering last February's 20-inch snowstorm that closed the subway for three days and brought much unwanted bad publicity.
If that same snowstorm occurs again next winter, however, Metro still won't be able to handle it, assistant general manager Nicholas Roll conceded. Metro will be able to handle a 10- to 12-inch snow, according to the staff report, and that is supposed to occur only once every six years. Last winter's 20-inch fall is supposed to happen only every 50 years.
"I think this is a reasonable proposal," said board member Francis B. Francois. "If we need more, we'll go back in later." Roll said that most of the equipment will be on hand by the time the snow falls, if it does.
Metro's new snow plan, which accompanied the equipment request, rejected such expensive possibilities as covering the outdoor yards where Metro's trains are stored, and where Metro's trains were trapped last February.
There are plans, however, to move some trains underground if a big storm seems to be on the way. However, Roll said when asked, there are no plans to install electronic test loops in underground areas. Each car must pass an electronic test every day before it is put into service.
The basic assumption, according to the staff report, is that "given the proper equipment and manpower, timely clearing of snow from the yards, as presently designed, can be achieved."
In other action yesterday, the board approved a new contract that will permit Metro's construction program to move forward. The contract, which must be approved now by seven local governments, will make available a total of $667 million in construction money over a two-year period.
Most of that money - $567 million - will be in the form of federal grants. The rest is from local or state sources. Local governments must approve the contract by the end of September or run the risk of losing $275 million in federal money earmarked for Metro for fiscal year 1979.
The new contract, when signed, will permit the first new construction and design work for Metro beyond the 60-mile system that already has been funded. Thirty-one miles of that system is in operation.
The agreement technically calls for a three-year funding program, but there is presently no local money for the third year.
The source of local funds will depend on the jurisdiction involved; bond issue elections may be required in some localities or state appropriations could be used. Identifying those sources is one of the major unresolved financial issues still on the Metro calendar.
Also yesterday, Metro General Manager Richard S. Page recommended that Metro continue its policy of charging fares from police officers in civilian clothes unless those officers carry one of the limited number of passes issued to police departments.
Uniformed officers are carried free and police organizations in the area have urged that all policemen be given free rides all the time. Page's recommendation will stand as policy unless the board chooses to act otherwise. CAPTION: Picture, FRANCIS B. FRANCOIS . . . "a reasonable proposal"