Unshoveled sidewalk at Battlefield National Cemetery. Photo by James.

Dick Durbin has joined the ranks of Congressmen who pick on DC for its inability to instantly, magically melt several feet of snow that smashed the all-time record.

But Durbin might want to look a little closer to home for the source of some problems.

Along Pennsylvania Avenue, for example, the worst job clearing snow came from the National Park Service, part of the federal government in which Durbin is so influential. Commenter Kelly writes:

I walked in [Friday] morning ...along my usual route down Pennsylvania Ave SE and Independence Ave SE/SW.

Residential and business sidewalks were well-cleared except for the blocks along Pennsylvania Ave SE maintained by the National Park Service (4th-6th / 7th-9th) which were completely unshoveled or plowed.

To be precise, while Seward Square (4th-6th Streets SE) is indeed an NPS property, the Eastern Market Metro plaza (7th-9th) was transferred to DC in 2006, and the District hasn’t shoveled most of its parks either. Still, NPS has plenty of unshoveled spots all over the region. James, who lives off Georgia Avenue, writes,

Although extremely frustrated about the lack of plowing on my side street, I’ve been understanding of the District’s limited resources and limited plowing capabilities.  What I don’t understand, however, is how the National Park Service has neglected to shovel the long portion of sidewalk in front of Battlefield National Cemetery, located between the Takoma and Brightwood neighborhoods on Georgia Avenue.

All the neighbors on the blocks around the cemetery, including a Safeway and a CVS have cleared their sidewalks after every snowfall.  NPS has not.  Seven days since the first flakes fell and not a single shovel has hit the cement.  I’ve witnessed countless people make the decision to walk in the cleared, but dangerous, street rather than walk through the stretch of uncleared sidewalk.  So, what’s NPS’s excuse?

It’s good that Durbin realizes that our snow response could be better. How about he talk to his friends on the National Parks subcommittee about holding a hearing into why the Park Service isn’t doing its part?

In recent storms, they’ve plowed the freeway through Rock Creek while ignoring the walking and bicycling path. What was the agency’s mission, again? But maybe that sits just fine with some of our Senators, who generally get chauffered by SUV from their homes to the parking lots at the Senate.

By the way, this is bizarre: the NPS directions page for Capitol Hill parks recommends taking the bus from Naylor Road on the Green Line to get to Seward Square, or a bus from Eastern Market and then walking three blocks when the park is just a single block’s walk from the Metro. Marion Park (around 5th and South Carolina SE) suggests a bus from Anacostia with no mention at all of the one-block walk from Eastern Market.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.