Many Reston Streets Still Snowed In 48 Hours After Storm’s End

by Karen Goff January 26, 2016 at 10:00 am 37 Comments

Autumnwood Drive in Reston Monday, Jan. 25/ Jackie Laurenzi via Twitter

The blizzard stopped more than 48 hours ago, but some Reston residents still can’t get started.

There is increasing frustration Tuesday among residents whose streets have not seen a single plow pass.

At least these residents were Tweeting to the responsible party — and in many cases VDOT answered. One frustrated resident was bringing the plight of her unplowed street to Newschannel8, Reston Association and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, among others.

The frustration, and, in some cases, confusion is nothing new after a snowfall like the nearly three feet that fell here over the weekend. While many streets in Reston are plowed by private contractors, some are VDOT streets. VDOT has priority system, with the most-traveled roads getting highest priority. Residential subdivisions, especially cul-de-sacs, are the lower priority.

VDOT says its goal after a storm is to clear all roads within 48 hours. VDOT’s interactive sites VirginiaPlows and 511iVrginia can show you when plows are in your area. Here is how to know who is responsible for your street in Reston:

Reston Association is not responsible. RA’s territory is RA property, such as the parking lots of Walker Nature Education Center and the pools. The association also plows the 55 miles of bike paths in Reston. Fairfax County is also not responsible for plowing.

Most Reston neighborhoods are part of cluster or homeowners’ associations. If this is you, you likely pay quarterly or monthly dues in addition to your annual Reston Association assessment. This is the case with most apartment and condo complexes, townhouse neighborhood and a number of single-family home subdivisions.

Part of your cluster dues go for snow removal with a private contractor. If you are concerned that the street has not been plowed, contact your cluster president. You should receive regular communication from the cluster via e-mail or flyer. Not sure which cluster you belong to or who is on the board? Start with RA’s neighborhood list.

If you are not in a cluster, then your street is likely plowed by VDOT

Visit VDOTPlows.org to see a real-time map of when your street will see a plow.

Photo: Autumnwood Drive in Reston Monday/Credit: Jackie Laurenzi via Twitter

  • Chuck Morningwood

    If Reston were a city, we would have our own fleet of snowplows.

    BTW, RA might not be responsible for operating the plows, but they are responsible to the local clusters and their residents. If they won’t put the pressure on VDOT, then why am I paying them dues?

    • HP

      It’s all a clusterf***

    • Mike M

      Because of the penalties if you don’t. An organized boycott some day might show them something about accountability.

      As for plowing, I guess we in my neighborhood have been lucky in the past. Last really big storm I was in the office after a day at home. We are on day three and we haven’t seen a plow since Friday night. I sense I’ll be here until Thursday, Friday? From what I hear even if I could get out it’s a regional mess.

      I think it’s safe to say VDOT really hasn’t figured out big snow. Their website is cute. Every neighborhood they haven’t touched in “In Progress. When you see the resources they concentrated it is hard to understand the lack of progress.

      Don’t forget County resources and Kathy Hudgins.

      • Rob

        Frontloaders… yeah, the plowing led to some roads (like Reston Parkway) going from 2 lanes to 1 lane and back to 2 with very little notice. The plowed snow is piled high enough and is dense enough that frontloaders will be the only way it gets cleared. The toll road has a similar issue, including blind merges from toll plazas because of the height of the plowed snow (and no merge lanes).

        • Mike M

          Interesting. I grew up in New England. I know this is not New England. Even 30 inches is a big storm up there. But this storm was many days in coming. The state seems to have marshaled resources well. But if 48 hours after you are still piddling with major routes, there is a problem. I suggest they just don’t know how to clear a major artery. Large plows side-by-side, offset.

          • Richard

            New England has snow blowers that throw the snow far from the road. We don’t typically require that kind of equipment so we’re left with a slower process to clear the massive piles of snow that our plows push around. Better to have a slightly slower process on a 100-yr snowfall than to pay millions for a fleet of equipment that’s required on that frequency.

          • MaggieSays

            Exactly. Growing up in Connecticut, this was one of our city plows. Buying a fleet of these seems like overkill for Virginia.

          • Mike M

            It’s a dump truck in the summer, Maggie.

          • MaggieSays

            Excuse me for not knowing my truck types. I’m just a girl, and my experience is with Barbies and cooking. Could it be that the size plows and retrofitting you would do to outfit them all would also be a significant cost?

          • Mike M

            You seemed to assume that. Ultimately, it comes down to priorities. When NoVa sends mostly Liberals down to Richmond they tend to be willing to spend and not worry about getting genuine utility in return. I call it sending poodles to a pitbull party. Barbies and cooking? Are you a hair-trigger feminist? Perhaps you are part of the problem. Perhaps you are sensitive because I stated some obvious less-than-happies?

          • MaggieSays

            I’m not sure why you are talking about feminists and liberals. I don’t know about hair trigger. I do like doing my hair. I’m not joking. It’s fun. Lighten up. 🙂

          • Mike M

            “Excuse me for not knowing my truck types. I’m just a girl, and my experience is with Barbies and cooking.”

          • MaggieSays

            I literally do not know truck types because I like girl stuff. Who is the feminist here?

          • Mike M

            Sorry, excuses and happy speak are great but when they:
            – Routinely clear only one and a half lanes there is no excuse, it’s competence and commitment and standards.
            – Have a week to marshal resources and still cannot deliver, it’s bad priorities.
            – Don’t invest in vehicles like the ones below which can be dual-purposed and concentrated in advance.
            – Continue to pretend that snow is a rare event in N and W Virginia.
            Look. When you get taxed as I do, I expect some services beyond handouts for immigrants and lazy dogs.

    • Rational Reston

      “RA might not be responsible for operating the plows, but they are responsible to the local clusters and their residents. ”

      RA doesn’t care about Reston residents or any responsibility towards the residents only our money and whatever ivory tower projects that money can fund.

    • BethB

      “… But they are responsible to the local clusters and their residents.”

      Individual cluster boards decide which private companies they want to hire for snow removal. VDOT and RA aren’t involved.

  • Greg

    Very disappointed with VDOT. In fact, disgusted with them. Clearly, despite their expensive snow summits, they haven’t learned a thing from what happened in 1996 or 2010. It snows here. A lot. This is is not the South. Where is the national guard? Where is FEMA? Where is Ken Plum? Not a peep from him about this epic fail? #doomed.

    • Karen Goff

      Janet Howell’s office said call her to talk to her staff about VDOT (804) 698-7532. Ask for Carol.

    • Richard

      What world are you living in? We received 2 1/2 feet of snow. That’s way more than we typically get in a whole year. VDOT has done a great job clearing the roads. Worlds better than they did 10 or 20 years ago when we’d be lucky to see a plow on the side streets days later. Funny that it’s often the same folks who hate government spending who are so eager for us to maintain a massive fleet of snow removal gear to cope immediately with once-in-a-lifetime snowfalls.

      • Greg

        Clearly not the same world you live in. VDOT did a terrible job. Move on.

  • With an S

    How does VDOT define “plow”? Our VDOT-maintained street was technically “plowed” by a small pickup truck that got stuck in the snow several times. We now have one lane that is covered with packed snow. The VDOT website says our status is “completed” so I don’t expect a larger plow will be by! Not sure how a school bus will be able to get down our street tomorrow without getting stuck or how kids will be able to walk to bus stops.

  • Kelley Westenhoff

    The challenge is that this is VERY BIG snow. It takes twice as long as normal storms, uses twice as much fuel, and is much harder on the trucks. Plus, they have to have somewhere to put the shoveled snow — which in itself will contribute to more traffic hassles than we can imagine for the next week to 10 days. As for RA being responsible for something your cluster is responsible for, that just doesn’t make sense. If your cluster isn’t living up to its responsibilities, or its snow removal contractor isn’t doing so, THAT is where the blame and action should lie. That’s why you agreed to move in there and pay extra fees.

    • Mike M

      I guess my challenge is that I don’t live in a cluster, and I have seen this much snow handled in much less time. If the major routes were clear, I would understand. But it sounds like even the priorities have been lagging. That is bad sign for neighborhoods all over NOVA.

      We should start a pool for predicting when schools re-open. I’ll start bids with Monday.

      • Kelley Westenhoff

        Mike, where were you when you saw this amount handled better? Different location? Last time during snowmageddon my little cul de sac was much worse off in terms of time response…but even then I don’t remember having so MUCH snow to move around.

        • Mike M

          Here in 2010. At least for my neighborhood, Then many times in New England.

    • BethB

      Well put. Plus the smaller trucks with plows belonging to private owners/companies that were contracted by VDOT couldn’t handle the snow over a certain height. The two trucks that just worked on our street were larger than what we’ve seen in past years.

  • Kelley Westenhoff

    With an S – a bunch of neighbors on our street stood with us at the base of the cul-de-sac when the truck finally came into our neighborhood. We plied them with baked goodies, and stood there watching. I don’t know which was more effective, but they paid attention when we pointed to where we wanted the snow dumped and did a pretty good job on the lane. (Where they didn’t it was because of people who had parked cars on the street instead of their driveways) VDOT has said they’re not going all the way down to the pavement — but one lane, passable is the best they can do right now, because there are so many people still waiting for even that.

  • BethB

    Two plows with two great guys (contractors) just plowed our street/cul de sac off of Glade three days after the storm ended. They took incredible care, even asking where one driveway was, since you couldn’t tell. (Most of us had shoveled out to the street.) They got out of their trucks more than once to figure out strategy, asked if a car that was blocking an area could be moved, etc. {applause!}

    RA isn’t responsible for state roads, and not living in a cluster, we can only rely on the state. Neighbors down Glade in a townhouse cluster were much more quickly cleared since the cluster hires a company for snow removal.

    • HP

      You need to get out more…

      • BethB

        Care to explain what that means?

  • As I understand it part of the deal Reston made with FFCounty and Va Transportation is that neither the county nor the state is responsible for maintaining most roads in Reston. It is a local responsibility especially for clusters and the like. So they do not repair out pot holes or scrape our snow away. It is ours and always will be ours..

    • Beth

      VDOT is responsible for plowing and fixing lots (most?) roads in Reston, from major ones like Reston Parkway to very small streets. Private streets within clusters are up to the clusters to maintain. Many residents don’t live in clusters. (We’re on a small street that connects to two other streets, all cul de sacs that are state roads.)

      This seems to explain it some, especially toward the end:

      • Greg

        VDOT-maintained streets have a route number atop the sign See below. Private streets will not have a route number.

        Most, if not all, condo, cluster and patio-home streets are private and maintained by the cluster or condo unit owners’ association.


    • Beth

      Here’s an example on a piece of the map – blue is privately owned (clusters that hire contractors) and red is state – VDOT. This is for snow and maintenance. The link to the interactive map is above.

      Some streets start out as state and then change to private/cluster.

  • ClusTerp

    “Part of your cluster dues go for snow removal with a private contractor. If you are concerned that the street has not been plowed, contact your cluster president. You should receive regular communication from the cluster via e-mail or flyer.”

    Believe you me, anyone who lives in a cluster has already discovered (if they didn’t already know) who their cluster pres is and has likely pummeled their inbox with requests/demands/insults for everything from clearing the streets to driving them to their doctors appointment. Watch the news, read the tweets and tour the streets (if you can get out) before sending that next request for 5th update today on when the contractor will be there to magically clear a literal blizzard.

    It’s a whole different ballgame for the elected officials and paid employees of the state and local agencies (like RA) who are supposed to be “professionals” at this kind of stuff. But take it easy on your volunteer cluster boards folks, lest you find yourselves without anyone to do all the work while you look for someone to blame for the weather…

  • Beth

    Just FYI, here’s a link to a Ffx county page with a link to a map that color codes who maintains what roads. You can enter your address to get to that part of the map.


    The map if you want to skip the rest of the page: http://fairfaxcountygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Viewer/index.html?appid=45c59fef4ecb46398c211d5422b63ab2

  • MarkR307

    Bah, i’m not going to break my back so that I can drive out of the neighborhood 1 or 2 days sooner. I understand people need to get to work. I’m blessed to be working from home…. didn’t skip a beat.


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