Major streets and highways in the metropolitan area were mostly clear by yesterday morning, but as snow-plows moved into residential neighborhoods questions arose about whose street was getting attention first.
Officials in the District of Columbia said terrain -- particularly hills -- was the determining factor in where the plows went first. The hills are left for last.
Residents digging out of working class neighborhoods -- particularly black neighborhoods -- complained however that they were always the last to see those plows if they ever do.
Bernard O'Donnell, deputy director of the city's Department of Transportation, acknowledged that residential side streets in low-income, heavily black areas, east of the Anacostia River were among the last scheduled for clearance last night.
He said however that some streets had not been plowed in the hilly, predominantly white affluent neighborhoods west of Rock Creek Park.
A reporter touring some neighborhoods off hilly Reno Road in Northwest Washington found streets that were rough but plowed.
In another section of town, Banks Place in Far Northeast, retired railroad worker James Stewart stood on his front steps and said: "I've been living here for 10 years and they ain't never plowed this street."
In Palmer Park in Prince George's County, where moderate- and low-income blacks live, frustration over unplowed streets was running high.
"It seems to be a pattern," said Ernest Gray, president of the Palmer Park Civic Association. "This area over here is the last to get plowed."
Vaughn Barkdoll, acting director for public works in Prince George's County, disputed such observations and called them "off the wall comments."
"Race has nothing to do with it and political influence has nothing to do with it," Barkdoll said.
In Fairfax County, half of the residential side streets remained to be cleared, but there was no apparent distinction between affluent and nonaffluent neighborhoods.
In the subdivision of Mantua, where houses sell for $150,000, Marge Adler had been calling state officials since Monday. "They keep telling us (tomorrow). What do we pay taxes for? We've got four or five doctors in here who have to get out."
On nearby Laurel Leaf Drive, residents paid $400 for a 15-minute snow removal job. "If we waited for them (the government) we'd never get out," one homeowner said.
In Montgomery County, where county officials had promised that by Tuesday night, all streets would have be plowed once, there were about a half dozen scattered neighborhoods still unplowed.
One middle-income Montgomery County neighborhood passed by was a six square block area in Northwood.
"I called the [county] government 25 to 30 times and they haven't gotten here yet," said Jerry Pasquale, a retired government worker as he shoveled snow in front of his home on Kerwin Street, "We should quit paying the damn taxes. I guess they've got their own priorities and commoners don't fit in."
Hartwood Cronell, an official with the county transportation department, had no specific explanation as to why the streets in Northwood had not been plowed.
In the District, transportation officials said that for snow removal purposes, they divided the city into three main subdivisions: Northwest and Southwest, for which the city Department of Transportation snow removal trucks were responsible; center city, and Northeast, for which the Department of Environmental Services was responsible and East of the River, for which the construction and repair division of DES was responsible.
But transportation deputy director O'Donnell also said, "We try to work out from the center of town." Asked if that meant the farther a person lived from downtown, the longer he had to wait for a snow plow, O'Donnell replied: "I wouldn't say that."
O'Donnell said much of the responsibility for setting priorities within the snow removal subdivisions is given to inspectors who work directly with the crews.
Prince George's County appeared furthest behind in the area's gigantic snow removal task.
Acting public works director Barkdoll reaffirmed yesterday that it may be another two days before some neighborhoods are reached.
Among them was the Ardmore section near Glenarden, a middle-income black neighborhood where none of the streets had been cleared by county plows.
Henry Logan, 51, who was shoveling himself out said. "I pay $1,000 in property taxes and get no services."
On Brooker Drive in Seat Pleasant, residents were digging out where no plows had ventured. They said they were told by county officials that their street was too narrow. "They could at least send a sand truck in," complained Madison Mitchell.
In Kettering, Judge Francis Borelli of the District Court was shoveling out his driveway. But by 3 p.m., a snow plow had reached his street. Judge Robert Woods of the Circuit Court also lives on that block.
In Landover Knolls, where County Executive Lawrence Hogan once lived, residents had banded together for group street shoveling. "We had great service when Hogan lived here," said resident Judy Sotter.
Area officials said they hope warmer temperatures and rain will do the rest of the snow removal work for them today and the rest of the week.
But for thousands of residents, once-through snow removal so far has left up to six inches of snow-packed ice remaining on many streets. "If it is passable, we are calling it clear," one transportation officials said.
And as for additional plowing to remove huge drifts and glacial coatings on many side streets: "That will stay there until the sun melts it," said Gary Wendt, of the District snow emergency staff.
Meanwhile, Arrington Dixon, District of Columbia Council chairman, said there will be a review of the city's snow removal performance.
"The council's review should attempt to identify the problems that plagued the snow removal efforts..." Dixon said in a statement.