Trash has not been picked up in some areas of the District in more than a week because of icy alleys and the diversion of garbage truck operators to snowplows, but the city hopes to catch up by sending trash trucks out today and tomorrow to collect garbage that wasn't picked up last week, a city official said yesterday.
"We know that there is trash that has not been collected," said Linda Grant, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works. Because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday last Monday, collection had already been delayed a day. Then garbage truck operators were hastily reassigned to sand and salt trucks and snowplows to fight the Thursday snowstorm and the Saturday night snowstorm that didn't happen.
"This week has quite simply been a challenge," Grant said.
Trash that should have been collected Thursday and Friday will be picked up today and tomorrow, she said. Normal Monday collections also resume today.
It's not clear exactly how many households were missed or which neighborhoods were hardest hit. Peggy Armstrong, the mayor's spokeswoman, said the problem "appears to be sporadic." She urged residents to call the citywide complaint number, 202-727-1000, if their trash was not being collected.
Ice-covered alleys are complicating trash collection, said Grant. Some alleys have been so treacherous that supervisors have refused to use them--declaring them unsafe for trucks and crews, Grant said. Trucks will return to those icy alleys to pick up trash at an unspecified date, Grant said.
That policy has irritated some residents.
Andrew Isen, who lives in a three-unit town house in the 2300 block of Ashmead Place NW, in Kalorama, said his garbage hasn't been collected since Thursday or Friday of the week before the storm. The alley has become thick with ice, and Isen, a 41-year-old marketing consultant, called several times over the weekend to inquire about trash collection.
"They told me they do not pick up from alleys if there is ice in the alley. They've assured me that tomorrow they're going to come, and they're going to handpick it up," he said yesterday.
Isen said he thinks the city's safety concerns about icy alleys are legitimate.
"But you know what? They should make other arrangements and tell us what to do. Should we put it out front? We've got garbage from 12 people piling up for nine days."
Loretta Johnston, who lives in the 1600 block of Monroe Street NW, in Mount Pleasant, normally has twice-weekly curbside trash pickup, but she said she hasn't had regular pickups for three weeks. Her street has no ice, and recycling contractors have been able to get through.
"I've got about 12 bags in front of my house," said Johnston, 35, a management consultant. "We are very close to the park, and we've got animals the size of cats trying to get into the garbage. It's a health hazard."
When she called the office of D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) to complain, she said, a staff member told her that Graham was aware of the problem, that he had received numerous complaints in the weeks before the snowstorm, and that broken garbage trucks were to blame.
Grant, the DPW spokeswoman, said she is not aware of a problem with broken trucks other than the usual number being out of service for ordinary wear and tear.
Staff writer Darryl Fears contributed to this report.
CAPTION: Loretta Johnston says garbage in the 1600 block of Monroe Street NW, in Mount Pleasant, has languished for three weeks. "It's a health hazard," she says.