With winter weather upon us, it is once
again time to prepare for snow and ice storms. The Virginia
Department of Transportation (VDOT) provided us with additional guidance to
share with you. VDOT is responsible for clearing snow and ice on all state
roads, which are marked by black and white route number signs. In Northern
Virginia, there are more than 17,000 lane miles to clear when we have a storm.
This year VDOT has a statewide snow-removal budget of $115 million, of which
$33 million has been allocated to Northern Virginia.
In the months since last year’s historic
snowstorms, VDOT has updated each of its 650 snow maps for Northern Virginia,
added 600 contractor trucks to its fleet, provided additional snowplow
stimulator training, and initiated an Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) pilot
program. The AVL program will
allow VDOT to track which areas a truck has covered and how long it took the
truck to cover an area, as well as locate a truck to aide in an emergency
response. Already, nearly 400
trucks have had the AVL system installed.
When snow or ice is forecast, VDOT will deploy trucks
loaded with salt and sand to staging areas where they are assigned routes.
Crews will pre-treat about 300 lane miles of trouble spots on Interstates 66,
95, 395, and 495 – including bridges and ramps prone to freezing – with liquid
magnesium chloride. Another 200
lane miles on major roads, such as Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29,
50, and 123, are pre-treated with salt brine.
VDOT Road Priorities are as follows:
(I-66, I-95/395, I-495)
Routes (Routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50, Fairfax County Parkway)
thoroughfares in neighborhoods or developments
Once 2 inches of snow has accumulated on the roads, crews
can begin plowing. Please note
that it is VDOT policy to start plowing once 2 inches have accumulated. This year, trucks will be
pre-positioned in subdivisions whenever a forecast calls for 2 or more
inches. In the past, trucks have
not deployed until after 2 inches had accumulated.
The main thoroughfares in subdivisions
are repeatedly plowed during a storm.
Once the storm has stopped and these roads are clear, crews will work to
make residential streets and cul-de-sacs “passable.” A neighborhood street is considered passable when a path is
drivable, with caution, for an average passenger vehicle. The road will not be cleared curb-to-curb
or to bare pavement, and it may remain snow-packed, uneven and rutted,
especially following any refreeze.
Chemicals are not typically used in subdivisions, but crews will sand
hills, curves, and intersections as needed to provide traction. For most storms, one snowplow pass, about
8-10 feet wide, is made.
Winter Weather Driving Tips:
off the roads, let the plows clear the snow, and be patient
does not remove snow from sidewalks (there has been additional training for all
plow drivers to not shovel onto fire hydrants, side walks, driveways, etc)
an average 6 inch storm, VDOT’s goal is to make 1 pass of all roads within 48
hours of the end of the storm
tries not to deploy trucks during rush-hour
not clear the last couple feet of your driveway until a plow has been through
shoveling your driveway, shovel the snow to the right as you face the road
parking on the street, but if you have to park on the street, please park on
the odd numbered side of the street to leave more room for trucks to drive
up the current road conditions before beginning your trip – call 511 or visit www.511virginia.org
sure your vehicle is ready for winter
your car’s windows, roofs, mirrors and lights clear of snow and ice
wear your seatbelt
plenty of extra time to reach your destination
aware of potentially icy areas, such as shady spots and bridges
a safe distance of at least 5 seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are
plowing the road
NOT pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary – treat these as you would emergency response
an emergency winter driving kit in your car
During and after a storm, if you have a safety
concern regarding a specific roadway or situation, please feel free to report
it to our office or directly to VDOT:
In the event of a winter storm, I intend post
updates as I receive them on my website, www.delegatecomstock.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.
I would also like to invite you to keep in touch and to send me
information throughout a storm.
- www.511virginia.org - Provides real-time updates on traffic
incidents and road conditions
– Follow VaDOT and 511northernva for news and information on VDOT projects and
programs around the state and updates on traffic incidents and road conditions
- www.facebook.com/virginiadot - learn about VDOT news and programs
- www.youtube.com/vdotweb - view videos on snow removal and
several other topics