Trash is piling up in alleys and on street curbs across the District because trucks have been delayed by snow and ice, frustrating residents whose nerves already have been taxed by the bad weather.
Crews will be working extended hours tomorrow to catch up on pickups of garbage and recyclables, said Mary Myers, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Public Works.
Yesterday, Myers said that an uncertain weather forecast -- more snow was predicted for last night -- could complicate the schedule.
"All of this, too, depends so much on what we get tonight. We just don't know," Myers said. "The forecast has been a moving target from the beginning. If we get five inches, we have a better chance catching up than if we get 10."
Myers said that delays have been caused not just because trucks have trouble navigating icy alleys, but also because cars are parking farther from the curbs because of snow. Trash removal usually is not delayed if the city gets up to three inches of snow, Myers said, but anything more than that can cause problems.
City residents said they can understand why trash services were delayed by the major storm that dumped more than 20 inches of snow in some areas of the region last week. But some said they are confused by the city's instructions about what to do with the trash.
Officials had announced that because many alleys are snow-covered or icy, residents should put trash in dark plastic bags -- instead of Supercans -- and leave the trash at the curb.
Some of the curb-side trash has not been collected, while at times the alley trash in Supercans has been, residents said.
Greg Shron, who lives on Nebraska Avenue NW, said that he moved his trash to the curb but that it was not collected Wednesday. "Normally, I would just leave it in the alley as long as I want because it's sealed in the Supercans," he said. "But if they tell me to put it in bags, then make sure to pick it up, or it becomes a problem with rats."
Darlene Atkins, who lives on McKinley Street NW, took the opposite approach. She and her neighbors left the trash in the Supercans in their alley after being told to do so by D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4), who had contacted public works. But the trash was not picked up, Atkins said, even though trash in the alley across the street was removed.
"My thought is that there is going to be snow on the ground until April or May at this rate. What does that mean, that we get no trash pickup?" asked Atkins, who said her trash has not been collected since Feb. 3. "Just give us a clear directive."
Fenty said he has read about 100 e-mails from confused residents. "The communication [from public works] has been problematic," he said. "At least tell residents what they can expect."
Residents who have moved their trash from the alleys to the curbsides should leave it there and call 202-727-1000 to report that the trash has not been collected, Myers said. Or residents can take trash to the transfer station at Fort Totten.
"We plan to get to them," Myers said. "Patience is the watchword. The crews are out there. They are working and picking up as much as possible."