In many cases, snow is going nowhere

Some being put in empty parking lots, city parks, will also be dumped into harbor

February 09, 2010|By Anica Butler | anica.butler@baltsun.com

With so much snow already on the ground and more falling, many people are wondering, where does the snow go?

In some cases, it is being moved to empty lots and even dumped in the Inner Harbor. But in most cases, it is going nowhere.

Baltimore City has been moving some snow to empty parking lots and city parks, according to Adrienne Barnes, city transportation spokeswoman.

Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake said Tuesday that Pimlico Race Course has been generous in accepting snow on its grounds, and that some snow is also being piled in school yards around Baltimore, such as Lake Clifton's. Other sites include Druid Hill Park, Leakin Park, Canton Waterfront Park and Harbor Hospital. The city has also obtained a permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment to dump snow in the Inner Harbor.

MDE's guidelines advise that "relatively clean snow removed from paved areas ... may be placed into large tidal water bodies (for example, Baltimore Harbor or the Potomac River near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge) without causing adverse environmental impact."

Snow from Baltimore- Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is being put into one of five "melters," according to airport spokesman Jonathan Dean. Snow plowed from around the airport's gates is being scooped up by loaders and then dumped into the melters -- large vehicles that look like tractor-trailers -- where it is turned into water.

Snow from the runways is "pushed to the side for the most part," Dean said, with plows and large blowers.

But not all jurisdictions have been able to get rid of the snow. For example, Baltimore County officials said they'd like to remove the snow that's been cleared from roadways, but it's just not practical.

"We're not taking a whole lot anywhere, we really don't have that capability," said Tim Burgess, chief of highways for Baltimore County. "We're putting it back where it's at."

Burgess, who said he laments the "loss of real estate" on thoroughfares where the snow has simply been pushed to the side, said that much of the snow is too deep to be reached by the county's trucks. The only way to remove it is with loaders -- heavy machinery equipped with rubber tires and a bucket on the front. The county has been renting loaders from as far as Connecticut and North Carolina, but it's still not enough.

"This is going to be, I don't want to say gloom and doom, but it's going to be serious," Burgess said.

In Anne Arundel County, sidewalks and driveways blocked by impassable banks of snow are an often unavoidable byproduct of snow plowing .

"The county does not haul away snow," said David Abrams, spokesman for County Executive John R. Leopold. "There is no disposal of the snow. Unfortunately, on days like [Wednesday], when we are clearing snow, driveways could be blocked or large piles could be left. We leave it where it is."

Snow is also piling up on road sides in Howard County, but the county plans to later return to some places to scoop the snow into dump trucks for disposal in county parks, according to James Irvin, Howard County public works director.

The question of where to put the snow has been an issue on area highways as well. Neil Pedersen, the state highway administrator, said in a news conference Tuesday that state crews are simply piling the snow out of the way. Two lanes on six- and four-lane highways are being dedicated to the cleared snow. Pedersen said he did not know what will happen with the new snow that was expected Wednesday.

Baltimore Sun reporters Meredith Cohn, Larry Carson and Michael Dresser contributed to this article.

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