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Life as a F.C. Snow Plowman Finds Dedication, Good Will

Handling two blizzards in one winter, days apart, the City of Falls Church snow removal

snowplow

(Photo: Charles Hansen)

crews remained hard at work plow clearing the city’s snow-packed streets through today.

The more than 30 inches of snow has kept crews working constantly from Friday morning, when the first storm hit, according to one snowplow driver.

“We’ve been at it, off and on, for about 88 hours, with a break of four or six hours. It’s all about keeping up that energy level,” said Darrell Green, one of Falls Church City’s tireless snow plowers.

In preparing for the second bout of snow which hit Falls Church Tuesday night, he said “it’s a matter of being mentally prepared.”

The snow onslaught is “nothing new to me,” Green explained, after working with D.C. contractors as a city inspector during the blizzard of 1996. “We’re here to do a job, and that’s to keep the public safe on the roads,” he said. “That’s all I care about.”

Green is part of the city’s snow crew, which, according to the city’s Environmental Services divison director, Robert Goff, numbers around 48 people on the job to clear streets in Falls Church, with 25 dedicated exclusively to snow removal.

The department had to cut several positions due to budget constraints this year. “We were down by five men for the December snowstorm, with three cuts in jobs and two men out,” he said. “This weekend, however, the two were back in place, and things are going well.”

In his 29 years serving Falls Church, Goff said he’s seen his fair share of snowstorms, and “the city’s crews are always prepared for whatever comes.” Even with money being tight for the city, Goff said Falls Church “still had a plan with contractors already in place, which is something unique to us.”

Goff said the priorities were to keep the major roads — Broad and Washington Streets — clear for access. “We do not want any reduced lanes on Washington or Broad so traffic can move. We’re plowing wherever we can clear along the snow routes.”

The snow removal crews are working with 14 pieces of equipment overall, including snowplows and sanding trucks. The crews are also using five front-end loaders, with help from contractors.

Goff said that while some residents have complained about snow removal efforts, which he expected given the volume of snowfall, “with this storm, we’ve got more compliments than anything else.”

“Residents have come up to the drivers and offered coffee and some food.”

Goff said the city has heard residents’ concerns over snow being piled up on driveways with the trucks clearing the street, though the number of complaints “is nowhere near what we received in December.”

“I’d say 90 percent of comments have been largely positive because residents understand the sort of job we’re facing,” Goff said. “These guys are working hard to keep the roads clear.”

“I make the effort to take citizens’ calls and to go house to house to hear their concerns,” he said. “After all, they’re paying their taxes to have this service, and listening to their concerns gives me an idea as to how we can improve their service.

While plowing the streets, Green said he’s received plenty of goodwill from Falls Church area residents. “In Zone Two, near Annandale, I get residents waving to me as I pass by all the time,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see that.”

“I know some residents complain about their driveways getting snowed in, but, in the end, it’s all about keeping the roads clear and ensuring a smooth operation, curb to curb,” Green added. “We all have to be safe, both public servants and residents.”

To help snow removal crews keep up speedy service, the city advises residents to remove their cars from the street curbs.

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