Road crews throughout the Washington area continued their round-the-clock efforts over the weekend to clear streets of snow and ice but predicted a delayed if not downright difficult trip for commuters this morning.
Around the Beltway, transportation officials said that major arteries had been plowed. But the gargantuan task of digging out from the storm proved to be more than could be accomplished in two days, and officials said they need more time before motorists can expect roadways to be back to normal.
In most cases, even primary roads are not expected to be at full capacity this morning and motorists will probably experience problems no matter which route they choose, officials said.
Major highways around the city are expected to have at least spots of snow or ice. Many access roads were still decked with snow last night and some lesser highway ramps were closed.
Complicating the problem further is the forecast for a new snowfall that could drop as much as one to three inches on some parts of the Washington area beginning about mid-morning.
"It's going to be a slow go," said one U.S. Park Police official. "Rush hour is going to be messed up no matter how you look at it. People have to realize that it's going to take a long time" to get roads cleared.
In Northern Virginia, for instance, highway officials said that major commuter arteries, including the Beltway, Shirley Highway and I-66, will be at 75 percent capacity with icy patches likely.
"Everybody ought to leave early and be prepared to get there late," said Donald Keith, the state highway chief for Northern Virginia. And if possible, Keith added, don't leave home at all.
Maryland officials said that most highways would be cleared, but the Baltimore-Washington Parkway could be limited to one lane in isolated areas and conditions are expected to be slick on many roads, including the Beltway, in some spots.
In the District, several primary routes into the city will be open, but others will be "hazardous," officials said.
Around the area, residents are still waiting for plows on side streets, where cars remained mired in up to two feet of snow.
"Our biggest problem is that people have parked where we've cleared the lanes," said Vaughn Barkdoll, public works director in Prince George's County.
"It created a hazard for the public and prevented us from plowing roadways at night."
Officials throughout the area complained that cars abandoned on the streets were severely slowing snow removal efforts.
"Unfortunately, the police didn't start towing them until after the storm," said Arlington County's snow removal supervisor, Earl Lillard. "People would just stop their cars, lock them up and go."
The sheer volume of snow and ice proved too much for equipment in many areas.
State highway crews in Northern Virginia said they couldn't clear some lanes on the Beltway until they could get large snow blowers from other areas of the state.
"It takes something besides our little dump trucks to move it," said Keith.
In Alexandria, officials said their snowplows just couldn't handle some of the ice and packed snow, and they resorted to slowly scooping it out with front-end loaders. In Prince George's County, at least 14 pieces of snow removal equipment gave out from the strain.
On Reed's Landing Circle in Burke, Va., about 30 residents took to the street with picks and shovels yesterday, and cleared their street themselves.
"It's sad that we pay all this money for snow removal, but we realize they are just overworked," said Alana Quincannon, who lives on the street.
In Rockville, about 40 people shoveled out Butternut Court on Saturday, but according to resident Robert Freidman, their work was undone when the county snowplow came along yesterday morning.
"The snowplow finally came up our street--and pushed all the snow back in front of the houses. We have to dig our cars out again," he said, echoing the woes of others.
Transportation officials yesterday released the following conditions that commuters would likely face this morning on area roads:
In Virginia, Shirley Highway will be open at 75 percent capacity with predominantly clear pavement but some icy spots. Express lanes will be open to all traffic, with car pool commuter restrictions lifted. Commuters are likely to experience problems on ramps at interchanges. Crews were planning to spread sand on ramps.
On the Beltway, many areas have been plowed to bare pavement, but there were still some abandoned cars to be removed and in some areas traffic may be restricted to three or two lanes.
I-66 also will be open at 75 percent capacity with possibilities of lanes being closed at some points. Car pool restrictions have been suspended for the day. Snarls are expected at the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge into the city.
I-95: mostly cleared into Prince William County, but at 75 percent capacity.
George Washington Memorial Parkway: clear except for spots between Spout Run and Rte. 123.
Rte. 7 from Leesburg into Tysons Corner: mostly cleared and 75 percent capacity.
Rte. 50: officials were hoping to have all four lanes open, but many traffic signals were not operating.
Rte. 1: good conditions except at left turns.
Columbia Pike, Seminary Road, Duke Street, Lee Highway and Glebe Road all were expected to be at 75 percent capacity.
District of Columbia:
Crews last night were still removing abandoned autos where Rock Creek Parkway had been narrowed to one lane between the city and suburban Maryland.
The parkway is expected to be clear this morning with patches of snow. Major access roads such as Military Road and Beach Drive were described as "passable." Officials warned that lesser access streets remained very messy.
Conditions on the Whitehurst Freeway and I-295 were reported good with clean pavement on all lanes.
City officials reported that many primary commuter routes will be at full capacity, including 16th Street NW, Canal Road, Arizona Avenue, Foxhall Road, Missouri Avenue, Bladensburg Road, East Capitol Street, Suitland Parkway, 17th Street NE and Georgia Avenue.
The following streets will be operating at 75 percent capacity: Connecticut Avenue, Wisconsin Avenue, New York Avenue, Benning Road and Kenilworth Avenue. Streets cleared to 50 percent capacity include 14th Street NW, Michigan Avenue, Rhode Island Avenue, Independence Avenue, Sheriff Road NE, Branch Avenue, Minnesota Avenue, Nebraska Avenue, Eastern Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.
Constitution Avenue, C Street NE, Dalecarlia Parkway, Naylor Road SE, and 13th Street NW all were reported in "poor to hazardous" condition.
Crews were still attempting to clear the Beltway last night but traffic could be restricted to fewer than four lanes in spots. On I-270 through the county, at least two lanes were expected to be clear to the pavement, but snow remains on one or two lanes in many areas.
Officials said two lanes would be open on Rte. 28 with icy spots along the way. Rockville Pike is expected to be at full capacity and Montrose Road was reported clear.
One lane into the city had been opened on Georgia Avenue and crews last night were still attempting to remove abandoned vehicles from University Boulevard. Old Georgetown Road was reported restricted but passable.
Park Police said George Washington Memorial Parkway was clear to bare pavement through Glen Echo, with slick patches approaching Chain Bridge.
Prince George's County:
Three lanes of the Beltway through the county were reported passable and officials were hoping to clear the fourth lane by this morning. Most of the highway is expected to be clear to pavement but with many icy spots.
The Baltimore-Washington Parkway was clear to the pavement except in some isolated areas where cars still needed to be removed and the highway was restricted to one lane. Major interchanges were clear, but some ramps from lesser roads remained closed.
Rte 50: clear between the Beltway and the Anne Arundel County line, but icy with snow patches from the Beltway into the city.
Rte 1: clear and dry in all lanes except in the Laurel area, where parked cars were hampering snow removal efforts.
Suitland Parkway: clear in all lanes.
Pennsylvania Avenue, Central Avenue, Branch Avenue and Indian Head Highway were expected to be clear with icy patches.