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It’s one of the oldest saws in D.C. political mythology: In snow removal, as in all things, it’s Ward 8 that gets the shaft. East of the river, the main thoroughfares look like bunny slopes and cars sit buried for days. The city’s army of plows is somewhere else, cleaning up Dupont Circle or Cleveland Park.
By 3:30 p.m. on Presidents Day, Ward 8 was the obvious winner in snow removal. Expeditions and Civics alike rolled down clear blacktop on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road. Even side streets such as Sumner Road were clean.
Meanwhile, in gentrifying Mount Pleasant, one resident was trekking uphill on 18th Street NW on cross-country skis. Every other street was unplowed or had gotten only the once-over from the Department of Public Works. Mount Pleasant Street itself was narrowed to one-and-a-half lanes, with cars clogging both sideseither trapped in embankments or stalled out with hoods up and blinkers on, the sign for surrender.
According to Department of Public Works spokesperson Mary Myers, Ward 8 owed its victory in part to federal intervention. This year, for the first time, the feds stepped in to clear major streets covered under the federal highway system.
“They have enormous trucks that are too big to get down most of our city streetsthey are designed to plow four to six lanes,” Myers says. “That has freed us to use our municipal resources more effectively.”
District Department of Transportation spokesperson Bill Rice says that the impact of the federal contract on snow removal in various wards can’t be confirmed until the cleanup is done.
Whatever the cause, Northwest residents had Ward 8 envy. “I think it’s horrible that it’s so much better on that end,” said Ward 1 resident Alicia Ventura, 20. “This part of town is more populated than in Southeast.”
“Maybe they are starting in Ward 8 and working their way up,” ventured Paul Carabello, 32, of Adams Morgan. “Or maybe they’ve just decided to do right by them this time.” CP