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VDOT will review miserable commute after blizzard ends

The roads last night were treacherous across the region, as less than an inch of snow that fell quickly turned to mush, and then to ice. 

Vehicles traveling on Route 610 slipped and slid all over the roadway as drivers tried to make their way home.

I was one of the drivers that never made it home last night.

Several crashes on Route 610, as well as a jackknifed tractor trailer made it impossible to drive Route 610 west beyond Joshua Road. It was one of the more troublesome spots (especially in Stafford County, I’m told) where road conditions deteriorated quickly. 

Many took to Twitter to share their horror stories of double-digit hour commutes home, photos of clogged roads, and fender benders. Many of you simply want to know what happened. 

“I heard from many constituents last night and it’s pretty clear that VDOT was blindsided by last night’s weather and then failed to properly react once they realized they had a major problem on there hands.  I had constituents whose normal 30-45 minute commute turned into as long as six hours due to untreated roads,” said Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell (Fairfax, Prince William, Stafford). 

Overnight, Virginia Department of Transportation Crews worked feverishly to salt, sand, and treat the roads. But for Wednesday afternoon commuters, it was too late.

So, I asked Kelly Hannon at the Virginia Department of Transportation what happened that left so many commuters stranded out there. 

She responded: 

Last night

The Virginia Department of Transportation treated all of Interstate 95 and interstate ramps in the Fredericksburg District with a salt brine anti-icing solution during the daytime hours on Wednesday. We also treated several primary routes – Route 3 and Route 218 in Stafford; Route 1, Route 3, and Route 620 in Spotsylvania County; Route 1, Route 30, Route 207, and Route 301 in Caroline County. We intended to spray salt brine on additional primary roads and high-volume secondary roads on Thursday.

Based on the forecast, we had trucks prepared with sand and salt to respond to less than an inch of snow. When roads began icing, especially in Stafford County, we mobilized additional personnel and at full response had 40 trucks applying salt and sand overnight to melt ice and give motorists additional traction.

Sand and salt are not applied in particle form to roads in advance of ice and snow, as traffic and wind will cause it to scatter across a dry surface.

We do plan to have an after-action review of last night’s response. We have documented what occurred for review after the upcoming storm is over.

Weekend storm

We are treating Interstate 95 again today with salt brine anti-icing solution, and we will apply brine to primary roads and high-volume secondary roads that we did not reach on Wednesday.

We will have 1,000 pieces of equipment loaded, in position and ready to roll at 7 a.m. Friday morning. Crews will be working 24 hours a day from that point on, rotating in 12-hour shifts, until all roads are clear.

We anticipate the Fredericksburg area could receive 16-24 inches of snow over Friday and Saturday. Two to three inches of snow per hour is expected during the worst of the storm Friday evening through Saturday morning. With a storm of this magnitude, driving conditions will be extremely hazardous. We are advising motorists to monitor the weather, plan ahead, and to stay off the roads during the storm.

Was Wednesday’s nightmare commute a wake-up call?

Maybe. Should you stay home from work tomorrow if you can? Absolutely. 

A blizzard is on the way.

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