VISIBILITY was less than great yesterday morning, but motorists in the District saw something not discernible during any snowstorm here in recent memory: streets beautifully cleared, many of them in far better shape than roads in Maryland and Virginia. On drive-time radio, unsolicited commuter call-ins were singing the praises of the D.C. government for deploying hundreds of trucks and dispatching police to 100 key intersections to help direct traffic. After Tuesday's nightmare on ice, seemingly worse weather conditions yesterday actually proved easier to address.
One effective way to move traffic in a Washington snowstorm is to let half the town sleep in. Closed schools and liberal leaves certainly helped. Also, emergency crews had ample time to mobilize and a good bead on how much snow to expect. The intersection-blocking that brought gridlock Tuesday was much less in evidence, perhaps in part thanks to a greater police presence. May this trend stick well beyond the last flakes of winter, with tickets for drivers who don't obey the rules.
Without reading too much into the District government's turnaround in snow operations, the new municipal management has made a difference. Equipment is in better shape, emergency crews have been given more training and a better operations chain of command seems to be in place. The reputation of any government is only as good as its last performance--and today, ice and more people going to work may present new troubles. But with cooperation from motorists, perhaps the region can continue to clean up its act.