Alexandria makes upgrades to snow prep, removal plan

WASHINGTON — When snow really starts flying this winter, Alexandria leaders say they’ll be better prepared than last year: The city has updated its equipment and technology, and will try new techniques.

“We have AVL, which is automated vehicle location services, on all of our snowplow vehicles. That allows us to track our progress,” said Jeff DuVal, deputy director of operations for the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, at the city council’s meeting Tuesday night.

He said they’ve improved snowplow driver training, and some new drivers have trained on snowplow simulators.

Alexandria property owners must clear snow from city sidewalks within 24 to 72 hours after a storm, depending on how severe it is. If they don’t, they face a $50 fine plus the cost of having the city clear the sidewalk.

DuVal said if a lot of snow falls, they will get extra help clearing sidewalks this winter. “We’re going to bring an extra contractor in this year for the larger storms, to ensure that we’re able to meet those 24-, 48- and 72-hour guidelines,” he said.

Alexandria already uses brine — a mix of salt and water — to pre-treat streets, and this winter, the city will try something that the Virginia Department of Transportation is already doing.

“We’re going to be piloting the use of brine during snow events, on snow itself,” said DuVal.

Better communication is another goal. DuVal said his department is looking to more actively use social media before, during and after storms.

Business owners and residents along snow emergency routes will get notifications in the mail detailing where cars can be moved if bad weather forces parking restrictions to kick in.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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