Leesburg Gives Update On Snow Removal Operations

It could take until the latter part of the week for some Leesburg streets to be accessible.

Town of Leesburg staff members hosted a conference call open to members of the public and the media Monday night, as well as all six sitting Town Council members, to update everyone on the town’s snow removal efforts thus far.

Renee LaFollette, director of public works and capital projects, said crews have been working continuously since 7 a.m. Friday morning. The town’s snow removal fleet includes 14 vehicles, in addition to seven contractor trucks.

LaFollette offered a breakdown of where the snow removal efforts stand. As of Monday evening, close to 35 percent of the town’s Northeast Quadrant streets have been plowed; 60 percent in the Southeast Quadrant; 60 percent in the Southwest Quadrant; and the Northwest Quadrant is nearing completion. LaFollette noted that the town’s priority has been to create at least one passable lane on the streets it has been plowing. There is no estimate right now as to when two passable lanes can be created on each street.

Remaining Southwest Quadrant streets will see at least one passable lane on their street by end of shift Thursday; in the Southeast by end of shift Wednesday; and in the Northeast by Friday.

“This is worst case scenario working only with the resources we have going on today,” LaFollette said, noting that she has been in touch with the director of general services for Loudoun County about providing additional resources for the town.

LaFollette said two important factors come into play when deciding where to focus snow removal efforts in the town – the size of the population in a given quadrant, as well as the terrain of the streets. The Northeast and Southwest quadrants contain the largest proportion of the town’s population, she said.

LaFollette said beginning Monday evening the town’s nighttime efforts will turn to treating primary roads to address some public safety concerns like two lanes going down to one lane, or turn lanes disappearing under snow coverage. She also said that resident requests for plowing specific driveways and pipe stems will not be honored unless there is a “verified medical necessity.” Town staff has been working closely with the Leesburg Police Department and Loudoun Fire and Rescue for any emergency calls. Should someone call 911, a plow will be re-directed to the area of an emergency to clear the street for first responders.

Town Manager Kaj Dentler, who led the conference call, said in a typical snow storm the town is dealing with 10 to 12 inches of snow. This storm brought three times the amount to which the town is unaccustomed.

“We’ve emphasized patience,” he said. “We’re not using that as an excuse, just as a basis of reality for where we are.”

Some council members and members of the public who participated in the conference call pressed Dentler about why more wasn’t being done to address the situation, namely the small amount of contractors being used for snow removal.

“Everyone has been competing for the same contractors,” Dentler said, noting that town staff had been in touch with contractors both before and during the storm to see about reinforcements for snow removal.

2 thoughts on “Leesburg Gives Update On Snow Removal Operations

  • 2016-01-26 at 8:31 pm

    COUNCIL MEMBERS — PLEASE READ THIS FB POST FROM SUPERVISOR AND FORMER MAYOR UMSTATTD. SHE NAILS IT ON THE HEAD, but you all canceled your meetings this week so the Town Manager and town crews will continue to “perfect” the plowing of main roads AND IGNORE THE RESIDENTIAL SIDE STREETS AND COURTS …. (this is verbatim) — KRISTEN UMSTATTD: This isn’t the worst snowfall we’ve seen in the last several years, but it has, as all of us know only too well, been handled differently this year. This year, the state and at least some smaller local jurisdictions adopted an approach to snow clearing that, while perhaps well-intentioned, in the end, will have seriously and unnecessarily jeopardized public safety for a week. This year’s approach appears to have been to dedicate all plows to perfecting the main roads before sending any plows into the subdivisions. From our somewhat limited viewpoint (we and most of our neighbors still can’t get out of the neighborhood), that approach should be replaced with another that has worked better in the past, Going forward, we would argue that state and local governments should go back to the policy of clearing enough snow off the main roads to make them passable (not perfect, but passable) and then immediately divert the crews into the subdivisions to start clearing the neighborhood streets. The neighborhood streets should start seeing plows as soon as a few manageable inches of snow have fallen. For smaller jurisdictions without enough plows (which is most of us), dozens of private contractors, not just a handful, should be retained in the spring and summer for the following winter and called in to be on standby as soon as the first weather reports indicate a significant snowfall is on its way. For counties, it is clear that measures need to be taken to clear streets in communities outside the towns that VDOT hesitates to enter because newer streets aren’t yet off-bond. At the very least, the state needs to change the rules that govern VDOT, so that VDOT can send equipment into those neighborhoods with newer roads.
    Sorry, we just had to vent.

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