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Members of the D.C. Council supported a bill that would provide overtime pay during snow emergencies. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Members of the D.C. Council supported a bill that would provide overtime pay during snow emergencies. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Updated: Nov. 18, 2016 at 10:40 a.m.

This post was written by reporter Chase Smith.

In an effort to provide better walkability during snow emergencies like January 2016’s “snowzilla,” D.C. Council members met at the John A. Wilson building to hear testimony for proposed amendments to current snow and ice removal legislation.

The District spent $55.3 million in response to the January blizzard, or eight years worth of snow removal budgets in response to the emergency. This new legislation would authorize Mayor Muriel Bowser to enter into an agreement with the Business Improvement Districts and Main Streets programs for snow and ice removal from sidewalks, curb cuts and crosswalks in their district or program area during a snow emergency.

Ward 6 Council Member Charles Allen, who proposed the amendment, said representatives from BIDs and Main Streets programs worked to clear snow and ice for the businesses and residents in their areas voluntarily. The D.C. organizations help improve conditions for people working in D.C. businesses and using District streets.

However, the BIDs and Main Street programs were not compensated for extra hours of snow and ice removal and instead millions were paid to contractors with little to none of it going to sidewalk shoveling.

Allen said he would like to see this conversation about pedestrian accessibility to be moved along because he has seen many people walking and not driving in the first few days of a snow emergency.

“I would love to be able to say out of that 55 million, five percent went to making sure we had clear pedestrian paths,” Allen said. “I would wager not even five percent, I would be surprised if even one percent, went to that pedestrian experience for clean and safe sidewalks.”

Representatives from the Main Streets programs in D.C. and BIDs testified in approval of the proposed amendment at the hearing.

Charlie Whitaker, the CEO of Career Path D.C., said the new amendment would allow his team to purchase more ice melt in snow emergencies, because last year’s blizzard saw them exhaust their whole years supply of ice melt in two hours.

“I love to see kids go to school on time every day,” Whitaker said. “If we could remove snow at a faster rate and more efficiently, we can keep our government open, our kids can get to school on time and we won’t have to worry so much about our seniors slipping and falling.”

Kyle Todd, Executive Director of Rhode Island Ave. Main Streets program, said his team rose to the occasion and removed “tons” of snow during the blizzard in January.

“However, when it came time to pay them overtime, well, that’s why we’re here today,” he said.

He added they could have removed the snow very quickly with the appropriate equipment and that it should be purchased in advance so his team can have proper training before the next big winter storm hits.

Natalie Avery, the executive director of the D.C. BID Council, said the current situation of D.C. prioritizing road clearing instead of sidewalk clearing should be changed.

Avery expressed frustration with street plows that push snow back onto already cleared sidewalks, which “erases hours of work.”

Ana Harvey, the director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development, testified in support of the proposed legislation on behalf of Bowser.

Harvey said the January snowstorm taught the city that they need to be ready for unexpected snow emergencies while also thoughtful of budgetary considerations.

“This bill explores a potential solution by allowing the Mayor to enter into agreements with BIDs or Main Street programs for snow and ice removal and improving efficiency by utilizing existing government resources,” she said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported the Ward 6 Council member as John Allen. His name is Charles Allen. We regret this error.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016 11:12 a.m.

D.C. spent $55 million on January snow cleanup

D.C. spent more money on snow cleanup in January than in the past seven years combined. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

D.C. spent more money on snow cleanup in January than in the past seven years combined. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Liz Provencher.

The D.C. Council went into an emergency session Tuesday to vote on how to repay $55 million spent on snow removal during one storm this January, according to the Washington Post

When almost two feet of snow threatened to shut down the city in January, city officials were forced to hire independent contractors to clear up the mess. The dozens of contractors hired cost the city more than the amount spent on snow removal in the last seven years combined.

City officials charged almost half the expenses to pay the contractors on city credit cards. This caused the city’s credit card balance to rise nearly 20 times its normal level, The Post reported.

J.P. Morgan shut off the District’s line of credit causing D.C. Council to take an emergency vote Tuesday on what actions they would take to repay the debt.

“It was a bit of a surprise and had us scrambling to pay our bills.” Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh told Washington City Paper.

District officials and J.P. Morgan came to an agreement shortly after the credit maxed out, so city agencies could continue to function.

D.C. Administrator Rashad Young said the credit closure was a “non-issue” and was resolved in less than 24 hours, according to Washington City Paper. Young also said the city has paid all but four contractors, who will be paid in June after the Council’s approval.

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GW classes, events and other activities taking place at noon or afterward Friday are canceled, according to a campus advisory posted Thursday at 6:49 p.m.

The announcement includes events on the Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon and Virginia Science and Technology campuses, and other locations throughout the Arlington and D.C. metropolitan areas.

A major snowstorm is expected to hit the D.C. area starting Friday, leaving behind anywhere from 16 to 30 inches of snow, Capital Weather Gang reported.

The Metro will shut down all services Friday night, and D.C. public schools and the city government will also be closed all day.

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Customers poured into the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods to stock up before the storm. Paige James | Hatchet Photographer

Customers poured into the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods to stock up before the storm. Paige James | Hatchet Photographer

Updated: Jan. 22, 2016 at 3:09 p.m.

It’s all anyone in D.C. can talk about – snow, snow, snow.

Capital Weather Gang is now predicting that as much as 15 to 30 inches of snow could hit D.C. this weekend, and while students (and some faculty) hope for a snow day, other D.C. agencies have already shut down in anticipation of the storm.

While there’s still no word from the federal government on whether or not they will be open tomorrow, here’s what’s already been shut down in D.C.:

The Vern Express resumes service

The Vern Express resumed service at 30 minute intervals at 7 a.m. this morning after officials suspended service at around 8 p.m. last night due to “poor road conditions,” University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said in an email.

The shuttle opened from 11:15 p.m. until midnight last night to bring students back to their respective campuses, Csellar said. She said the University had staff members posted at the pick-up locations on both campus to provide updates to students and also updated the community through Twitter.

“We thank everyone for their patience during the weather that resulted in challenging road conditions,” Csellar said.

After resuming operation this morning, the Vern Express then began operating on a 15-minute schedule at 8:30 a.m., according to the bus’s Twitter account.

Eckles Library tutoring shut down Sunday

The University cancelled tutoring at Eckles Library on the Mount Vernon Campus Sunday due to weather concerns, according to the library’s official Twitter account.

D.C. public schools closed Friday

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday that the city’s public schools will be closed on Friday. Schools began classes two hours late on Thursday after snow Wednesday night left roads coated in ice and snow.

Bowser apologized for the the city’s delayed response to the weather Wednesday night in a press conference, The Washington Post reported Thursday. She declared a state of emergency in D.C. ahead of Friday and Saturday’s expected snowfall.

“We are very sorry for the inadequate response,” she said. “We did not provide adequate resources at a time when it could have made a difference with the commute.”

D.C. government to close early Friday

Bowser also announced that the D.C. government will close early on Friday because of the impending snowfall.

Howard University closed Friday through weekend

Howard University will be closed Friday until Sunday, the university said in a statement Thursday.

“Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take caution and adhere to warnings/alerts,” the statement reads. “Essential employees should report to work unless otherwise indicated by their manager.”

Metro closed for the weekend

The Metro will operate from 5 a.m. Friday to 11 p.m. Friday, and remain closed on Saturday and Sunday, according to a press release from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority.

“Metro will protect hundreds of railcars by storing them in the tunnels during the storm,” according to the release.

Metrobuses will only operate on major routes during the day on Friday, and shut down system-wide starting at 5 p.m., according to the release.

Colonial Health Center closing at noon on Friday

The student health center will be closed until next week, according to an email from campus housing. Students are advised to ensure they have at least a five-days supply of their prescriptions, and can call the numbers listed on the Health Services website for medical and mental health questions.

Federal Government is out, too

The Federal Government is closed starting at noon on Friday, according to the Office of Personnel Management, with all federal offices in the D.C. area closing.

Emergency employees will remain at their worksites, unless otherwise directed by their agencies.

Looking to study through the storm?

Look somewhere other then Gelman: the library will be closing at three on Friday, according to its twitter. If you’re looking to drown your sorrows in a hot beverage, hurry, because its beloved counterpart, Gelbucks, has posted it will also be closing at 1:30 p.m.

Gallery has your back

Gallery Cafe will remain open this weekend from 6:30 a.m. to “late night,” according to a sign posted in the window of the joint. If you didn’t stock up enough food beforehand, feel free to satisfy your midnight cravings at this brave cafe.

Limited 4RIDE service

There will be no 4RIDE service Friday night or Saturday, according to a tweet from the Division of Operations. Service will resume on Sunday.

J Street to open for weekend service

J Street, which is normally closed on the weekends, will open in two-hour shifts for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday.

The Marvin Center dining hall will open from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m, noon to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, according to an update to GW’s advisories website.

The Vern Express suspends service

The Vern Express suspended service at 5:15 p.m. on Friday and weekend service is dependent on road conditions.

The University encouraged students to “consider being on the campus where where they intend to spend their weekend by Friday afternoon to avoid any transportation related issues” on its advisories website.

Jacqueline Thomsen, Lila Weatherly, Ellie Smith, Colleen Murphy and Jeanine Marie contributed reporting.

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If you’ve been putting off the start of the semester Whole Foods run, it may be time to get it done.

A “potentially historic” snowstorm could hit D.C. this weekend, Capital Weather Gangreported. The snow is predicted to begin during the day on Friday, with the worst conditions continuing overnight and into Saturday.

The Capital Weather Gang’s forecast models predict anywhere from one to 20 inches over Friday and Saturday, with a most likely scenario of a “severe” snowstorm with near-blizzard conditions and one to two feet of snow. The National Weather Service has declared a “high” winter-storm-threat level.

The mix of heavy snow, low temperatures and high winds could mean road closures, travel delays and power outages, according to Capital Weather Gang.

No official announcement has been made by the University about the upcoming storm.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015 2:48 p.m.

D.C. in winter storm warning until Thursday night

Updated: March 4, 2015 at 11:20 p.m.

Students hoping to fly out of D.C. for spring break on Thursday might be out of luck.

The District is expected to get anywhere between five and 10 inches of snow Wednesday night into Thursday, Capital Weather Gang reported. The city will be in a winter storm warning until 9 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Capital Weather Gang reported that snowfall totals could change depending on what time rain turns into snow Wednesday night. The University of Maryland in College Park and Howard University already canceled Thursday classes.

D.C. Public Schools also canceled classes on Thursday, the Washington Post reported.

GW and neighboring Georgetown University officials also faced a little pressure on Twitter to cancel Thursday classes.

D.C. will deploy more than 200 snow trucks to be on their routes by 2 a.m. Thursday, according to a District Snow Team release sent Wednesday at about 2:30 p.m.

The University sent an email to off-campus students Wednesday evening with information about the city’s snow removal policies, steps to follow in case of a power outage and places to buy shovels. Drivers should move their cars to snow emergency routes by Thursday morning, the email read.

Two weeks ago, GW canceled classes for a day after more than three inches of snow covered the city.

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The University will reopen Wednesday after canceling classes because of snow Tuesday.

Academic and administrative offices will operate on a normal schedule Wednesday, according to a GW alert sent Tuesday afternoon.

The Vern Express is still operating every 30 minutes. Gelman and Eckles libraries are both open. The Marvin Center and the Lerner Health and Wellness Center are open for their regular hours.

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Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 3:53 p.m.

J Street, Gelman remain open Tuesday

Following the decision to cancel classes Tuesday, the University released a list of impacted services.

The Vern Express will run every 30 minutes until further notice. The shuttle from Foggy Bottom to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus is not running.

J Street opened at 7:30 a.m. with “limited service” for meals. Pelham Commons on the Mount Vernon Campus opened at 9 a.m.

Gelman Library and Eckles Library both opened at 10 a.m. after closing Monday at 10 p.m.

The Marvin Center and the Lerner Health and Wellness Center will operate on normal schedules Tuesday.

Mail and Package Services and campus stores are closed.

The Colonial Health Center is closed, but students may still call for assistance.

The IT Support Center is only available for remote assistance.

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Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 11:43 a.m.

Classes canceled after snow coats D.C.

Hatchet File Photo by Charlie Lee | Hatchet Photographer

File Photo by Charlie Lee | Hatchet Photographer

The University has canceled classes and closed its offices Tuesday, according to a campus alert released at 4:37 a.m.

D.C.’s winter storm warning ended a little past 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, after the city received about 3.6 inches of snow, Capital Weather Gang reported.

Package services and the Colonial Health Center will both be closed Tuesday, according to a campus advisory. Gelman and Eckles libraries opened at 10 a.m., and the Marvin Center and the Lerner Health and Wellness Center are operating on normal schedules.

The Vern Express will run every 30 minutes until further notice. The shuttle from Foggy Bottom to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus is not running.

J Street opened at 7:30 a.m. with “limited service” for meals. Pelham Commons on the Mount Vernon Campus opened at 9 a.m.

The IT Support Center is only available for remote assistance.

Ryan Lasker contributed reporting.

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Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 11:41 a.m.

Snow day watch: What’s open near campus

The University received a chilly rating from Money magazine for its graduates' return on investment. Hatchet File Photo.

Hatchet File Photo.

Updated: Feb. 17, 2015 at 3:40 p.m.

It’s cold. You’re hungry. Or maybe you already ran out of booze.

Our team of reporters found out what’s still open so you don’t have to. We’ll update this post throughout the day.

Confirmed open:
CVS at the Shops at 2000 Penn

Whole Foods Market (Though we’ve been told the store only has the more expensive champagne and beer left.)

Foggy Bottom Grocery (Normal hours, but the sandwich shop will open late.)

711 at 514 19th St.

711 at 912 New Hampshire Ave.

West End Market

Trader Joe’s

Potbelly, Gallery Market, Pita Pit (until at least 3 p.m.) and Dunkin’ Donuts at Shenkman Hall

Carvings

The GW Deli

Captain Cookie and the Milkman

Did we forget your favorite place? Comment below and we’ll check it out. 

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly spelled the Shops at 2000 Penn as the Shoppes at 2000 Penn. We regret this error.

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