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Snow hammers Arlington

Carrie Cassaday, senior water service specialist for the city of Arlington, left, joins Gus Tararan, senior water distribution specialist for the city, in shoveling snow out of the gutters of Olympic Avenue on Jan. 20. - Kirk Boxleitner
Carrie Cassaday, senior water service specialist for the city of Arlington, left, joins Gus Tararan, senior water distribution specialist for the city, in shoveling snow out of the gutters of Olympic Avenue on Jan. 20.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON— The three-day weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day turned into a full week’s worth of snow-days for many Arlington residents, but even as the snow finally stopped falling and started melting on Friday, Jan. 20, there were still veritable mountains of cold, grey, thick slush left behind on the streets and sidewalks of downtown Arlington.

Gus Tararan, senior water distribution specialist for the city of Arlington, joined Carrie Cassaday, senior water service specialist for the city, in shoveling snow out of the gutters of Olympic Avenue that afternoon, before Tararan hopped up into the driver’s seat of a backhoe to plow the remaining mounds of slush into piles half as high as the cars parked curbside.

“I usually deal mostly with water meters, but with all the snow covering them, I haven’t been able to get to them,” Cassaday said. “It’s been a few years since I was pulled off my regular duties to help clean up a heavy snowfall like this.”

Even after Tararan’s backhoe had removed most of the stubbornly unmelted snow from the streets, Arlington residents like Marv Jackson were still faced with the task of making their portions of the sidewalk accessible to pedestrians. Marv is the husband of Arlington American Legion Lounge Manager Debbie Jackson, so he took that afternoon to shovel the stretch of the block around the Legion Lounge’s front entrance.

“This stuff might stay here for two or three days otherwise,” Jackson said, as he hefted heavy shovelfuls of relatively white snow off the concrete. “We need to make sure it’s safe out here for people to walk on, not to mention the folks who might be in wheelchairs.”

Arlington Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield explained that the city is still determining the impact to its budget of dealing with the snowstorm, but she was able to report that more than 400 staff hours were directly connected to the city’s snow response.

“Our city staff coordinated their 12-hour shifts to include their normal eight-hour workdays, so we were able to keep the number of overtime hours to a minimum,” Banfield said. “Right now, we’re estimating about 125 hours of overtime for the storm and the cleanup.”

From Saturday, Jan. 14, through Friday, Jan. 20, city street crews spread approximately 800 tons of sand-and-salt mixture over a total of approximately 2,500 lane-miles with their three trucks, according to Banfield.

“We have 162 lane-miles in the city, so that was about 15 trips around the city,” Banfield said. “Of course, some roads were plowed and sanded constantly, such as the main arterials and primary snow routes, and then we started sanding and snow removal on the secondary routes and residential streets.”

For the Arlington School District, the four snow days from Tuesday, Jan. 17, through Friday, Jan. 20, didn’t really represent days off so much as days that need to be made up for on the calendar for this school year. As such, the school district’s make-up days will start on Monday, June 18, and run through Thursday, June 21.

“We plan to keep the graduation dates as scheduled,” said Andrea Conley, public information coordinator for the Arlington Public Schools. “The School Board is considering an adjustment for the end of the semester, but this has not been finalized yet.”

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