WASHINGTON — As work continued across the U.S. Capitol to negotiate a critical coronavirus relief deal and prepare for a presidential inauguration 35 days away, crews mobilized to clear 14 miles of sidewalks throughout the Capitol complex – a mission to keep the area functioning during a week of breakneck work.
The Architect of the Capitol is the federal agency charged with maintaining the grounds through all weather conditions. Its crews are responsible for snow and ice removal across the equivalent of 400 football fields.
A thin coat of snow Wednesday covered the walkways leading to the nearly completed inauguration platform on the West Front of the Capitol, but it was freezing rain and ice that removed much of the small accumulation of powder by nightfall.
Ted Bechtol, Superintendent of U.S. Capitol Grounds, said in a prior interview with WUSA9 that the agency has 500 tons of rock salt at its disposal. The salt is used for road surfaces, while 20 tons of deicer are used for sidewalks and steps.
It generally takes two hours to prepare all equipment for a full snow event, Bechtol said.
There is, in fact, an area of the Capitol that is up to three degrees colder than the rest – a patch of ground which may warrant extra attention during inclement winter weather.
The agency identified First Street and Constitution Avenue, N.E. as the coldest spot on the Capitol grounds. Relatively high building heights and mature trees cast the area in shadow for most of the day, decreasing its temperature.