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“If not today, it’ll be tomorrow.”
That’s the promise of John Lisle, a spokesperson for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in a long-ranging interview this morning with City Desk. Lisle was referring to DDOT’s sked for hitting the residential streets with plows and salt and so on.
The city’s snow-removal operation, said Lisle, is finishing out its assault on the main arteries and preparing to move all that equipment into the neighborhoods. That’s going to be good news for Joe D.C. Taxpayer, who up to now has seen a light touch by work crews on the lesser-traveled streets. According to Lisle, the city is divided into 82 neighborhood plowing zones, and each one is assigned its own light truck equipped with a plow. And given the enormity of this one-two punch over the last six days, that one light truck per rezzy zone has been overwhelmed.
Not only will equipment from the main routes get diverted to the rezzy streets over the next 24 hours, but DDOT is supplementing its fleet via contracting. Lisle said that some heavy-equipment mogul in Massachusetts pulled his name and number off the Internet and is offering to come down with some rigs. “People are out to make some money,” says Lisle, noting that the city is deploying light and heavy plows, front-end loaders, backhoes, and Bobcats to get the job done.
Other key points:
*If your car is parked in an alley, you have a choice: Wait for spring or hire your own contractor. The city does not clear alleys, says Lisle, except for a few in which people live in carriage houses. The reasons for the no-alley-plowing are several: 1) Resources; 2) Alleys are too narrow to accommodate the snow that gets pushed around; 3) There are extreme liability questions—-if you try to plow the alley, you’re bound to sideswipe a few cars and a stray garage door.
*People are all over the map in terms of their feedback on the city’s snow-removal performance. Says Lisle: “We’ve gotten some great positive feedback from people who appreciate all the hard work…and negative feedback from people whose street hasn’t been plowed or plowed enough.”
*Matthews wasn’t totally off the mark. When asked if he’d heard about the remarks of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews slamming the District’s snow removal, Lisle said he’d seen a tweet about the matter. Here’s, in part, what Matthews said: “Why can’t a government town do a government job? It looked like Siberia without the Siberian discipline. We had the weather of Buffalo with the snowplowing capability of Miami.” When apprised of that slight, Lisle showed a dimension that Matthews didn’t: reasoned thinking. The District, said Lisle, sure doesn’t have the equipment of a Buffalo when it comes to cleaning up after a winter storm. Nor is it as unprepared as a Miami. “We’re in the middle,” he says. “We plan for this year-round. Our crews have been working nonstop 12 hour shifts round the clock for six days straight. I can understand the individual frustration…I think that if you look at the city overall, I think we’ve done a great job.”
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery