June 14, 2010
The Honorable Isiah Leggett
Montgomery County Executive
Executive Office Building101 Monroe Street, 2nd FloorRockville, MD 20850
Dear Mr. Leggett,
As you are aware the back-to-back winter storms of February 2010 resulted in record snow falls in Montgomery County and presented the county with unprecedented challenges. The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) would like to commend you for your leadership during this challenging time.
At its February 16th meeting, the MCCAB held an open discussion on the snow storms. Members of the MCCAB were asked to discuss “what went right”, challenges faced and brainstorm possible solutions. Attached to this letter is a summary of the MCCAB’s open discussion for your consideration.
I asked the MCCAB’s Quality of Life Committee to review the results of the MCCAB’s open discussion and recommend priority issues for the MCCAB to bring to the attention of the County Executive and County Council. Based on these deliberations, and a final discussion at our April 20th meeting, the MCCAB has identified the following priority issues for your consideration:
1) Coordinate tree trimming with PEPCO to reduce future power outages
2) Restore the reserve fund to 6% to ensure availability of resources during an emergency
3) Enhance two way communications between the County and members of the public
Communications plays a key role in linking residents with their County government during an emergency. Further enhancements to communications, including improved incorporation of Mid-County regional services staff and 3-1-1, will likely improve the County's response, mitigation and recovery from future storms.
4) Improve coordination of plowing, and other operations, between the Montgomery County Government and the State.
Anecdotal evidence suggest that County maintained roads were better plowed than State maintained roads. Better coordination between State and County plowing may help improve the conditions of all roads during a future storm.
Once again, thank you for your continued leadership on these issues. I am happy to respond to any questions you or your staff may have.
cc: Montgomery County Council
Compiled by the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board
√ = Repeated Comments
√ √ Snowplow drivers, fire & rescue workers, police, and 4-wheel drivers delivering hospital workers for working to the point of exhaustion
√ √ County roads were plowed better than State roads.
The Mid-County RSC’s Clean and Safe team did a great job of plowing in the Wheaton CBD
Private malls and shopping centers did a good job of clearing their parking lots to the extent possible
Ride On did a good job of keeping bus transit services operating, better than Metro and Metrobus
Appreciated seeing Mr. Leggett on TV giving updates on the situation
For opening public garages for residents to park their cars w/o being charged fees so plow could clear streets more easily.
~~Miscellaneous Comments on February Snowstorm/Power Outages~~
Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board
Recommendations, Primarily for County County Action
- Call places like Michigan, Buffalo, or Boston that manage to continue functioning in spite of deep snow.
- Have more private contractors on stand-by to do plowing.
- County solid waste contractors should be required to equip garbage trucks with plowing blades so they can be used for plowing in place of garbage pick up.
Issue: More than 24 hours after the snow ended, many of the main roads still only had 1 lane that was passable.
Develop a more strategic plan for the:
·Pre-treatment of streets prior to a storm,
·Deployment of equipment that matches the size of the equipment with the size of the roads and the depth of the snow (to avoid sending equipment that is too large to get onto a street or can not lift snow high enough to get it off a roadway), and
·Use of contractors when the amount of snow exceeds the capability of County-owned equipment.
Issue: As late as Sunday, February 14th, portions of University Blvd were still not cleared curb to curb – with lanes disappearing into snow banks.
Recommendations: Use chains on emergency vehicles and plows on snow covered streets
Issue: Some neighborhoods were not plowed for 4 days or more.
Recommendations: Review existing plowing plan of clearing all primary roads to the pavement and then going into the neighborhoods and triage all the County’s streets to get them at least passable, and then go back to clear main and then neighborhood roads better.
Issue: State roads paved within the last 6 -12 months seem to have the worst potholes.
It appears the slurry being used by State contractors is not very durable. Montgomery County has stopped using this slurry to resurface County roads.
Recommendations: Look at why there seemed to be so many more potholes, especially along the seams between lanes, on recently resurfaced State roads e.g. University Blvd & Georgia Ave
Miscellaneous Issues & Recommendations:
Sidewalks in County parks were not cleared.
DOT pedestrian bridges and nearby sidewalks were not plowed.
Many public areas and their sidewalks, were not cleared, such as near University Towers & Nursing Home near there with elderly populations.
If we are concentrating development around Metro stations with the hope of enticing drivers out of their cars, Metro transit and buses need to work, even in times of severe snow storms.
County was very slow in setting up emergency hearing centers for people with no power.
Mounds of snow at school bus stops create a dangerous situation with students waiting for buses having to stand in the street.
Montgomery County experienced 10 times more power outages than surrounding jurisdictions such as PG Co and the District of Columbia.
Provide better communication and real-time information on plowing operations on the County website and via radio and television. Tools like Google maps should help with that.
The County and power companies need to provide more realistic projections of snow removal and power outage restorations; and residents need to have more realistic expectations of how long it will take to complete plowing and power restoration.
Encourage residents to park as many cars as possible in their driveways or, at least park all cars that can not fit in driveways on one side of street to make plowing easier.
Any after-action report that the County compiles should be made public.
Develop a snow emergency fund and/or restore Reserve Fund to cover these kinds of emergencies.
PEPCO’s priority list of residences and group homes needing prompt restoration of power needs to be looked at because members were aware that several group homes for the elderly that were on the list were without power for as much as 3 days.
Be prepared to deal proactively w/potholes.
Increase staffing for MC311 during periods of expected heavy volume.