It’s just like shoveling your driveway –- if your driveway were Constitution Avenue.
When a blizzard like the one expected this weekend pummels the U.S. Capitol and its surroundings, it’s up to the staff at the Architect of the Capitol to dig out -– all 21 miles of walkways and roads in the area.
According to the AOC website, they’ve stocked 500 tons of rock salt and 20 tons of deicer to keep 14 miles of sidewalks and 7 miles of streets free from snow and ice.
They also have to tend to more than 20 acres of parking lots and plazas, according to Ted Bechtol, the superintendent of U.S. Capitol Grounds.
AOC officials said the shoveling starts as soon as the temperature dips below 28 degrees and there’s 6 inches of snow or more on the ground. They monitor road temperatures using a thermal reader, which casts a laser beam at the road and calculates its temperature.
Also on the website, the AOC says the single coldest area on campus is the intersection of First Street N.E. and Constitution Avenue, just between the Hart and Russell Senate Office Buildings. Apparently that corner can be up to 3 degrees colder than other surfaces, likely because of building heights and mature trees blocking consistent sunlight.
But it's possible few people who work there will be slipping on ice, as the federal government might shut down early Friday - plus most lawmakers are already back in their home districts for the weekend.