Transit resumes in Washington after blizzard

  • 27/01/2016
  A Metro train moves over snow covered tracks in Washington. (Reuters)
A Metro train moves over snow covered tracks in Washington. (Reuters)

By Ian Simpson

The Washington DC area is slowly moving toward normal operation with improved transportation, but federal offices remained closed after a deadly weekend blizzard on the US East Coast.

District of Columbia city government and some local governments in the Washington-Baltimore region reopened on Tuesday (local time) after around-the-clock cleanup from the weekend snowstorm, which killed at least 35 people in 10 states and the US capital.

Washington's downtown had light traffic and few pedestrians, although many streets had been cleared and footpaths were still being shovelled. Washington joined Baltimore, Philadelphia and suburban districts in keeping public schools closed.

Devon Brewster, 27, a restaurant server, said he had no problem finding a downtown parking spot. He said the federal government could have opened even though the cleanup from more than 60cm of snow was continuing.

"It's government. They get plenty of days off a year. Good for them," he said.

"Maybe we should all work for the government."

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been idled or working from home since offices closed at noon on Friday ahead of the storm.

The House of Representatives called off all votes until next week, while the Senate cancelled votes scheduled for Tuesday.

Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, said the Washington area's US$500 billion (NZ$772 billion) economy would see slight impact from the storm.

Local governments already budgeted for bad weather, and two days of lost work out of a year was negligible, he said.

New York City was close to normalcy after a snowfall that fell just short of a record. Public schools and the New York Stock Exchange were open.

Washington's Metro subway system, the second-busiest in the United States, was shut down Saturday and Sunday, but was running with slower service on almost all lines on Tuesday.