For D.C. area commuters stuck in snow, 'it just felt hopeless'
By Katherine Shaver, Christian Davenport and Paul Schwartzman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 28, 2011; 12:00 AM
On the day after what officials called the Washington region's worst traffic fiasco since Sept. 11, 2001, fingers pointed at a slew of causes: untreated roads, fallen trees, abandoned cars, unheeded or inaccurate forecasts. Then there were the usual reasons Washington deals so poorly with winter weather: the area's location on the edge dividing rain and snow in many storms, an inadequate supply of plow trucks, and poor coordination among local jurisdictions.
But Wednesday's storm added another factor to the mix, as some local officials blamed the federal government's decision for creating an early rush hour at exactly the time the snow came down in an unusually intense burst.
"I wonder how many of these we have to go through before we learn that if we keep people until 4 p.m. and dump people into the middle of the chaos, this is going to happen," said David F. Snyder, vice mayor of Falls Church, who has focused on emergency preparedness as a member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
John Lisle, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, said the government should have pushed workers to leave earlier. "Looking back, I wish we had told people at 3 o'clock, 'The storm's going to hit at 4 p.m. If you don't leave by then, you may not get home,' " he said.