Disagreement over Park Service salt preparation ahead of storm

WASHINGTON – The Baltimore-Washington Parkway wasn’t friendly to commuters Friday morning.

For two hours, the Parkway was shut down between Route 193 and Route 50 in Prince George’s County for extra road treatment after a winter snow storm, according to U.S. Park Police.

Initially, USPP responded to an accident on southbound Route 50. But just after 6 a.m. officers on the scene of the crash determined the roadway was too dangerous for motorists and closed all lanes.

A short time later, a northbound section was closed for the same reason, after another crash near the exit for Md. 450 in Bladensburg.

The National Park Service, which has jurisdiction over the BW Parkway, believes it did enough to make the road safe to drive. It says treatment on the roadway began Wednesday evening before the snow storm hit the area and crews were plowing roads as snow accumulated during both waves of the storm.

However, Ian Glick with the U.S. Park Police Fraternal Order of Police doesn’t agree. He says the NPS maintenance yard ran out of salt Thursday afternoon ahead of the second round of snow that pushed through the region that night.

“They were not able to conduct any salt operation throughout the day [Thursday] to prevent the freezing or throughout the night to prevent the additional freezing that would’ve happened because of the snow,” Glick says.

NPS Spokesperson Jennifer Mummart says the organization didn’t run out of salt, and continued to treat roads with a sand and salt mixture until about 4 a.m. Friday morning.

“When it was noticed that we needed something a little stronger we switched to the pure salt,” Mummart says.

Both sides of the BW Parkway were reopened at about 8:45 a.m., USPP says.

According to the National Weather Service, more than 9 inches of snow fell in Prince George’s County during the two-day storm.

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