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Capitol Digs Out After Winter Storm Jonas

Capitol crews load snow into a dump truck. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It took 345 workers using 100 pieces of gear and "countless shovels" working through the weekend, but the Capitol campus' roadways and sidewalks are now clear of the snow dumped by the weekend blizzard that walloped the region.  

While most federal offices remained closed amid snow removal efforts in the District of Columbia, Capitol crews cleared nearly two feet of snow from parking lots, plazas and road for members of Congress who begin returning Tuesday.  

According to the Architect of the Capitol website , crews are responsible for clearing 14 miles of sidewalks, 7 miles of streets and drives, and more than 20 acres of parking lots and plazas during the winter.  

The AOC office has 500 tons of rock salt and 20 tons of de-icer on hand to keep roads and sidewalks safe to traverse. AOC spokeswoman Laura Condeluci said did not yet have information on how much was used for the weekend blizzard or how much the clean up would  cost.  

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On the East Front of the Capitol, snow drifts several feet high ringed the area around the steps Monday. Joggers, sledders and even some cross-country skiers traversed the campus, which was far more plowed than some of the surrounding streets on Capitol Hill that were the responsibility of the District of Columbia government.

A chorus of construction vehicles beeping and moving snow moved the piles of snow to their next location. An AOC plow driver said they periodically plowed the throughout the weekend, so the snow wouldn't build up.  

Snow from throughout the District will be hauled to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Southeast D.C., but snow from the Capitol was be dumped on the western edge of the grounds, near the Capitol reflecting pool. AOC trucks were in the process of adding to the mounds of snow in the area on Monday afternoon.  

Along with AOC workers, Capitol Police officers remained on duty over the blustery weekend. "We maintained continuous operational coverage campus wide throughout the blizzard, " said USCP Spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson.  

Jim Konczos, chairman of the Labor Committee said he and Chief Kim C. Dine mutually agreed Thursday evening to suspend portions of the department's collective bargaining agreement pertaining to overtime and leave, since the department needed to be flexible in maintaining staffing levels. Konczos said some officers were housed in nearby hotels, allowing them to rest between shifts.  

Officers were visible around the campus on Monday afternoon, as residents venturing outside walked around the East Front, taking pictures of the snowy building, and sledding on the West Front -- a new perk this year.  

Inside, the Capitol was quiet enough to hear water dripping from the roof on the third floor. Lawmakers, staff and the media were still digging out at home, but one senator was spotted heading into his Capitol office.  

“I figured as a Vermonter I better come by my office for a while," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., as he entered the Capitol. He also took advantage of his office's beautiful view of the Washington Monument and snapped some photos of the snow-covered National Mall.  

Jason Dick contributed to this report.

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