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What are roads like in your area? Tell us.

As the region digs out from a historic snowstorm, we want to keep abreast of road conditions throughout the D.C. area. Tell us how roads are in your area in the comments below. Have any harrowing snow travel stories? We'd love to hear those as well.

By Washington Post Editors  |  December 20, 2009; 7:43 AM ET
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I moved from Michigan to Northeast DC in July of this year, so yesterday's snowstorm was not too big of a shocker. However, the lack of preparedness of the part of the city was a pretty big damper on my weekend responsibilities. I was scheduled to work at my job in Bethesda both yesterday and today. With metrorail service suspended indefinitely, and with my car buried under 2 feet of snow in the alley with no access to the road it looks like this is going to be "snow day" number two. I just hope my employer takes the record snowfall into consideration in my upcoming annual review... This town just cannot handle it's snow.

Posted by: aubreymccullen | December 20, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

To those from the midwest or northeast who keep saying that this storm would have been no big deal up that way - please stop deluding yourselves. I, too, am from the upper midwest and have lived in upstate New York as well - and this storm would have caused problems up there just as it did in DC. Road crews in this area were out salting/sanding and plowing regularly. However, the conditions were such (heavy rates of snowfall + windy with high speed gusts) that it was impossible to keep the roads and rails clear for long. Snowfalls of 1-2 feet within a short time period do occur up north, but not on the "all the time" basis others have claimed (perhaps once or twice a season - a more regular snowfall is 6 inches or less). I agree that there was no need for the type of 24/7 news coverage some of the television stations signed on for - but that's not a problem with the various DOTs being unprepared, that's a problem with the station managers being ridiculous.

Posted by: sciencegrrl | December 20, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

In defense of this area, unlike states where this amount of snow is the "norm," we cannot dedicate thousands and millions of dollars in equipment and snow removal personnel for snow removal for record snowfalls, as they only come once in about every 10-20 years, thus "record breaking storm."

Posted by: patriciajohnson6 | December 20, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

In defense of this area, unlike states where this amount of snow is the "norm," we cannot dedicate thousands and millions of dollars in equipment and snow removal personnel for snow removal for record snowfalls, as they only come once in about every 10-20 years, thus "record breaking storm."

Posted by: patriciajohnson6 | December 20, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Clicking my ruby slippers three times... please close the federal government Monday and Tuesday, please close the federal government Monday and Tuesday, please close the federal government Monday and Tuesday,

Posted by: peepmonger | December 20, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

aubreymccullen: You should write "This town just cannot handle its snow" not
"This town just cannot handle it's snow"

Posted by: GeneWells | December 20, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Residential streets in College Park are... clear!!! First pass of the plows on my six-block long residential street was on Friday night, and continued through Saturday. Woke up Sunday and can see pavement!!!

I hope that they get to my alley some time on Sunday.

College Park city services are great--I am always plowed before any friends in other jurisdictions.

Posted by: PrinceGeorges | December 20, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

i don't know, but i have some vodka n white cranberry to keep me company until someone picks me up

Posted by: bobbydigyte1 | December 20, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Residential streets in Annandale are not clear, and I hope they stay that way! I drive a school bus, and tomorrow will be a nightmare if schools are open. Even if the streets are clear of snow they will be icy, and very narrow, and very dangerous.

Posted by: plantlady1 | December 20, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Here in NW DC, New Mexico Ave has been clear since around 3am this morning-and the side streets that I can see are clear also-people are out driving now. The snow plows in this area were out every 20 minutes all day yesterday-no problems here.

Posted by: arrabbiato | December 20, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

sciencegrrl, perhaps you haven't lived in West Michigan (I spent 22 years of my life growing up within 15 minutes of Lake Michigan) where we experience lake effect snow consistently throughout the winter. One foot of snow for West Michiganders is hardly anything new, and it definitely happens much, much more than twice a season. Granted, had I been raised here most of my life or somewhere farther South, I would also not know what to do - so I understand the chaos surrounding the storm here in DC.

I do agree that the problem with the snowfall here is that the area isn't used to it coupled with a lack of supplies to clear the road in a reasonable amount of time. It doesn't happen that often, so not as many plow trucks, salt, etc. are purchased by the city/county governments.

Posted by: amvb86 | December 20, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Major roads are clear here in NW DC. Side streets are passable, but very slick. Things ought to be back to normal by tomorrow around here.

Posted by: thetan | December 20, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

GeneWells, thank you. Apostrophe abuse is rife!

Back on topic, I'm in S. Arlington. About to take a walk up to Columbia Pike to see how it looks.

Posted by: chunche | December 20, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

What's closed? The Smithsonian? Botanical Gardens? Zoo? National Gallery of Art?

Posted by: comesthesun2 | December 20, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

In College Park and Berwyn Heights, US 1 and 193 are passable but have lanes missing due to snow banks. Virtually no one has cleared the snow pack from their car roofs or the beds of trucks -- why aren't police out ticketing for this? -- and 4WDers are driving like nutbags, sure to be found off the road once it all turns to ice again. Side streets are a mess, though.

Posted by: bigolpoofter | December 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I lived in Boston some years ago, and the natives said that Washingtonians were wimps, and that we didn't know how to drive in bad weather. This is true. It's also true that Bostonians didn't know how to drive safely in good weather! When I moved back here, my auto insurance rates dropped by half.

Posted by: Benny4 | December 20, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Please, governements, take heed & stay closed tomorrow!!!

Side roads in Bethesda are unplowed & unpassable!

I wish the governments would just declare themselves closed tomorrow & give us a chance to dig out. If it's "liberal leave", e.g., come in when you can, or use a day of your leave, how is a person supposed to walk 3 blocks through calf-high snow to try & catch a bus?????

Posted by: justletmeread4549 | December 20, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The Fairfax are south of GMU near Burke has main roads the are plowed and serviceable BUT it's a hilly area and I don't recommend anybody without 4WD attempt the roads. NONE of the side streets are plowed.

Known plowed Roads:

Roberts Road
Guinea --south of braddock only--(but with steep hills and still dangerous)
Route 123
Shirley Gate / Waples Mill
Government Center Parkway ???? not bad yesterday, but lots more snow since.

Posted by: Kdarienzo | December 20, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

any word on amtrak updates?? their website is a joke

Posted by: skaterman2297 | December 20, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

husband made it from Springfield to Vienna (not the mall). Said only one area on Little River Turnpike was tricky but he was not specific. FYI, he is driving a FWD car. Our neighborhood was plowed pretty early in the storm on which means our local streets are pretty bad. Neighbors are about 50/50 on shoveling sidewalks. Rolling Road near the FFX County Parkway looked pretty good.

Posted by: mallemployee | December 20, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

All right, fellow Michiganians: Let's keep in mind that Midwest snow storms--even *lake effect* snowstorms--cannot produce the volume of snow in one day that an Atlantic nor'easter can. The record for snowfall in one day in Grand Rapids, Michigan--which on average is a much snowier place than D.C. AND receives its fair share of lake effect--is 16.1 inches on Jan. 26, 1978. DCA, meanwhile, has had at least 4 dates in its recorded weather history with snowfall greater than or equal to 15 inches, yesterday included.

The truth is that Michigan and other Midwestern states don't get socked with the huge storms all at once like the Atlantic Seaboard does. Instead, they experience many consecutive days of snowfall that piles up over the course of a winter (like last winter's record seasonal snowfall throughout Michigan.)

All in all, I think this region has come to respond to storms of this magnitude as well as one should expect, given the infrequency of major (or even minor) snow storms and the inexperience of many of its drivers in winter weather.

Posted by: dcnate | December 20, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I have lived most of my life in UP Michigan (Marquette and Munising) and upstate New York. I still have family in Marquette and Munising and my two daughters live in the DC area (Eastern Market and Alexandria off the Little River Turnpike). Eastern market daughter says most roads in that area are clogged and snow covered cars are a problem. She says people are trying to drive on slick surfaces and sliding presenting a danger to pedestrians trying to cross the streets - walkers take care! Apparantly Little River Turnpike is mostly ok but narrow. Neither daughter has tried the beltway. As far as other comments about snow removal in DC, as I said in my opening sentence I do have some life experience comparisons and a storm of over 12 inches in 24 hours will generally cause problems anywhere (even UP Michigan and upstate NY). A couple of weeks ago Marquette had a foot of snow in 24 hours and then added a few inches the next day and school was closed two days. They get to a point there where they stop plowing and drive on top of the snow sometimes but at any rate, a very heavy snowfall is a lot of work to deal with and takes time to clean up - even if you have the plows and power to do so. Ditto in upstate NY, Mexico NY had like 6 feet of snow at one point last winter and it was a real struggle to keep walks and roads open and safe. I would say the DC folks are doing their best with what they have at hand. My advice is to walk and metro if possible, dig out your car and parking space as soon as you reasonably can, be mindful of ice and slippery surfaces and most of all have some patience for one another and for the workers trying to dig out.

Posted by: lablover6429 | December 20, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Arlington...Fort Scott...Grant and Hayes...have not seen a plow since this storm started. From my perch on the hill...4 neighborhood roads all unplowed.

Posted by: boater11 | December 20, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Clarendon around Wilson/Clarendon BLVD doesn't look bad. Some slush here and there.

Posted by: utengrjared | December 20, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Glenn Dale Road is a problem in Glenn Dale, Maryland. It hasn't been cleared much. Since it's hilly and there's essentially one lane, you really have to watch out for other cars.

Also, Route 450 in Glenn Dale/Lanham has serious issues in places. On some parts, there really is only one lane going in each direction.

Posted by: Michael Bolden | December 20, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know what the side/residential streets look like in either Old Town Alexandria or Arlington near Ballston? The main roads look clear. Also, any way to get from Ballston area to Old Town Alexandria tomorrow am you think? Its amazing how we are pararlyzed even when we know the snow is coming in advance.

Posted by: CassieinVA | December 20, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

take me to miami!

Posted by: proudgaycuban | December 20, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

The residential streets in Ballston are completely snow covered, though the snow is packed down. The roads are passable with all-wheel drive or front wheel drive.

Posted by: vtscott | December 20, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Wisconsin Ave at 1:00 this afternoon: in DC, clear. Same with Nebraska. In Bethesda/Chevy Chase a snow covered mess. Wisconsin and Bradley Blvd bobsled runs -- but with deep ruts. Sidestreets in Bethesda? Fuggetaboutit. Round One: Fenty - Won. Leggett -- ZERO.

Posted by: iankenny | December 20, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

In McLean, my street is not clear. Don't know about others, because I can't get to them - because my street's not clear. Anybody know how to tell VDOT that no plow has visited us? (I live in Fairfax County, where we're at VDOT's mercy.) Thanks.

Posted by: mjzilla | December 20, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

@mjzilla Good luck. If you call VDOT, you'll get a message saying that they'll try to get you cleared out by Wednesday night.

VDOT is a disgrace.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | December 21, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: shinybell21 | December 21, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Many thanks to the City of Alexandria for sending small plows through our neighborhood twice on Saturday and again yesterday afternoon, when we were digging out our cars. Residents in and around Duke Street, North Jordan, Taney, North Howard, and Seminary are grateful. I've never seen a more efficient and effective person behind the wheel of a snow plow.

Posted by: emmaparker | December 21, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

How are people from outside of DC criticizing DC for not being ready?
I lived north of Boston for eight years and we had a storm this big in the 1980's and everything was a mess for a week. The interstates were closed and all the public and utility services were disrupted and took about ten days to recover (our power was out for four days).
If you are from Michigan, or Albany, or Maine your local and state governments have a reason to have large numbers of plows, salters, salt and crews in inventory on permanent staff. DC and Virginia do not and it would be sensible for us to have been paying for that for decades every day in order deal with a couple of snowstorms.

Posted by: ID716 | December 21, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

I went to School in Boston but haven't been there in 30 years one thing I do know is that the TRAINS DO NOT STOP SERVICE for just a foot of SNOW.

What is WRONG with the METRO SUBWAY SYSTEM HERE? IS it a DESIGN DEFECT? EVERYTIME this place gets a MAJOR SNOW STORM why do the SUBWAYS have to stop? They don't stop in NY CHICAGO or BOSTON just in DC.
SOMETHING is serious screwed up at the SUBWAY SYSTEM here if it has to close everytime there is 1 ft of snow. Get some plow trains on the tracks or outfit the lead car with a plow.

Posted by: digtldesk | December 21, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I grew up in the north, and we did not have snow days at all. And it's not for lack of snow.

The reason we were able to do this, is that the department of transportation had these new inventions called "snow plows" that clear the snow off the street so cars can drive safely. They also spread this other neat invention called "salt" so that the roads didn't get icy.

The DC area should look into this technology.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | December 21, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Obviously, the way to handle storms like this is to have snowplows working ALL the streets INCLUDING side streets and subdivisions right through the storm. That way once the snow stops the sun can get at the snow and ice remaining on the street and melt it. This is how they do things up North. Of course every township up there (most of which are only a little bigger than the city of Falls Church) has three or four big snowplow-salt trucks and several smaller ones. Just as obviously the District and the counties down here can't afford the investment required for that level of equipment which will only be used MAYBE once a year. They have to buy for the average and when "Snowapalooza" hits hire all the contractors they can find, work 'round the clock and hope for the best.

Posted by: Acresant | December 21, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The roads here in Southern Maryland are awful. Slushy and some times down to one lane on 2 lane roadways. Tonight will be awfully icey if they are not plowed.

Posted by: klflocco | December 21, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Montgomery County needs to clear its bus stops on Rockville Pike. It is not safe to get off the bus, because you are in the middle of the Pike. DC bus stops are in much better condition.

Posted by: ewdc | December 21, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

My neighbor tells me she saw a news story in which the mayor was interviewed and said DC will ticket ($100) anyone who places objects (chair) in a parking space that they cleared of snow. Does anyone know of anyone who has received a ticket for this offense?

Posted by: ed_hoke | December 23, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I live in Fairfax County where VDOT is supposed to clear the snow. Every snowfall over the years, I see the VDOT subcontractors driving through our neighborhood without putting their snow blade down and not spreading any sand or chemicals. Once when I questioned the driver, he said he was told by his boss who was told by a VDOT supervisor not to push the snow and just drive around. Second time I questioned another driver, he finally started spreading sand. That one happened today, December 23rd. I contacted VDOT about the first driver and they sent out another sub-contractor in a pickup truck without 4-wheel drive. Of course, he got stuck in the snow. I guess the cheater was sent to another neighborhood to rip us off. I'm sure my neighborhood isn't the only one that this happens to. Do any of you notice exactly what the trucks are doing? This is why the Virginia side roads take forever to get cleared because no one is supervising this people. We always hear in the news that VDOT is short of funds. Maybe if someone did their job and oversaw this blatant thievery, VDOT might have a little more money in their budget.

Posted by: Terri20001 | December 24, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

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