By Carla Branch
December 19th’s record-breaking snowstorm required many City employees to work long hours and perform duties that might not have been in their job descriptions. City Manager Jim Hartmann directed traffic on King Street and assisted a motorist who couldn’t get her car out of a traffic jam in the snow.
When the City of Alexandria opened for business on Monday, Dec. 21, the streets were still snow-covered and falling ice was a potential threat to pedestrians and motorists who braved the elements and ventured forth. One such hazard was a large block of ice on a building at the corner of King and Patrick Streets in Old Town.
“We were still holding three-a-day briefings at the emergency operations center and after one of those briefings we stopped by the building to take a look and make sure that the ice wasn’t endangering anyone,” Hartmann said.
After inspecting the ice and determining how to deal with it, Hartmann walked around the corner onto King Street and discovered a bus and a truck involved in an accident. “We called the police to notify them of the incident and to ask for their help in directing traffic, which was backed up several blocks up King Street,” Hartmann said.
As Hartmann walked back to his car, he warned motorists to turn around to get out of a traffic snarl that was likely to last for some time. “One lady said that she didn’t think she could move her car so I offered to turn it around for her,” Hartmann said. “She got out of her car and I got in and turned it around so that she could get on her way home to Fairfax. Then, I directed traffic at King and Patrick until the police arrived. Luckily, I had on a bright-colored coat so I was visible. I probably only stood there for a few minutes but it seemed a lot longer. It made me appreciate what a hard job directing traffic really is. I was quite relieved to turn it over to the professionals.”
That was not the end of Hartmann’s snow adventure. While he was turning the motorist’s car around, he dropped his cell phone in her car. Staff tracked her down and retrieved it. “It’s all part of the job,” Hartmann said.