Tab For County Snow Removal Hit $25 Million Before Monday's Snow

Tab For County Snow Removal Hit $25 Million Before Monday’s Snow

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The cost of snow removal and storm cleanup in Montgomery County before Sunday’s snow was about $25 million, already much more than $9 million budgeted.

According to an executive staff report, that is good for the third most expensive winter since 2000, with 2009 and 2010’s “Snowmageddon,” blizzards accounting for $64 million in treatment and removal costs. The next year’s winter brought $27 million in removal and treatment costs for fiscal year 2011.

The 6-10 inches the county got Sunday and Monday might have put this winter on par or even past that one. The County Council on Tuesday will get a briefing on snow removal costs and a more detailed look at the major storm Feb. 12-13 that dumped 10-21 inches of snow across the county.

The county’s MC311 phone line experienced a technical problem on the morning of Friday, Feb. 14 that left many folks calling about unplowed neighborhood streets on hold. In the 11 a.m. hour of Feb. 14, MC311 reports there was a call abandonment rate of 73 percent with an average wait time of more than 35 minutes.

A server syncing issue between the phones and 311’s software system meant more time to process calls and prevented some call takers from being able to pick up the next call in line. According to the county’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security, the 311 welcome announcement was not changed to a technical difficulty message until about 9:30 a.m., about three and a half hours after the technical difficulties began.

As of Feb. 22, there were 3,800 requests made to 311 regarding snow removal, more than half of which came on Feb. 14. During a relatively calm winter in 2013, there were just 183 snow removal requests.

There were also reports of problems with the Department of Transportation’s Storm Operations Map, which at points on the night of Feb. 14 did not work.

As for the plowing and snow removal, DOT had 358 total personnel and 680 total pieces of snow equipment on the roads in the days following the initial storm and the additional 4 inches that fell later on Thursday, Feb. 13.

According to DOT, 505 of those pieces of equipment belonged to contractors. In all, 5,200 lane miles of roadway were plowed and treated with 15,250 tons of salt.

The 940 lane miles of county primary, arterial or emergency roads were cleared within nine hours of the initial storm Wednesday night into Thursday. The 4-inch second part of the storm required crews to go back to those roads and another six hours of re-treatment.

Neighborhood plowing of 4,210 residential lane miles was completed within 40 hours of the end of the initial storm and lasted until Sunday, Feb. 16.

On Feb. 14, the county determined it had to remove large piles of plowed snow in the downtown areas of Silver Spring, Wheaton and Bethesda because of subfreezing temperatures the next few days.

From 9 p.m. that Friday until 10 a.m. Saturday, the county called in 80 additional dump trucks and loaders to pick up and move snow to dumping sites in order to clear intersections and crosswalks.

The Council will get the briefing at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

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