RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has mobilized crews for the winter storm that is currently impacting Virginia from Salem north to northern Virginia. VDOT completed anti-icing in all districts across the state yesterday and has crews on duty – or on standby – across the state. Crews will work around the clock in 12-hour shifts throughout the storm.
Current weather forecast information indicates the highest winter weather impacts to be the western and northern regions of the commonwealth. Windy conditions and cold temperatures are forecasted for several days after the storm which could create drifting snow and refreezing after roads are plowed.
“VDOT began yesterday deploying the personnel, equipment, materials and technology to stay ahead of this storm and keep roads prepared for winter weather,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “Be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions, and most importantly, do your best to be where you need to be before the weather gets bad. To avoid accidents during winter storms, VDOT always suggests delaying travel when possible.”
Due to today’s special state senate election in Northern Virginia, crews are paying particular attention to polling places in the 33rd District, which includes portions of eastern Loudoun and western Fairfax counties. While all available state and contractor forces for this storm have been called in, it is best to vote as soon as possible and avoid deteriorating road conditions through the day.
Once it has snowed two inches, residents can enter their address at www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in their neighborhood. A web-based snowplow-tracker map is available at http://novasnowplowing.virginia.gov/. A video on how to use the website is available on VDOT’s YouTube site at http://youtu.be/HMRaItZLgyo.
Before traveling, get the latest traffic conditions by calling 511, or go to www.511virginia.org. You can also download the free 511 mobile app at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp#app
VDOT equipment operators and contractors are mobilized to begin plowing and treating roads as the storm begins. Crews will work first on the interstate and primary routes (those numbered 1-599) and continue to focus on these routes until conditions improve. Once the precipitation stops and these major roads are plowed and treated, VDOT begins to work on neighborhood streets and secondary roads, those numbered 600 and above.
VDOT Budget, Equipment, Materials
For the 2013-2014 winter season, VDOT has a statewide snow-removal budget of $157 million. However, the agency will use whatever resources necessary to keep Virginia’s roads clear and safe, no matter the weather. Last winter, VDOT budgeted $149 million for snow-removal activities and spent $142 million on preparation, anti-icing and snow removal, using the remaining money on needed maintenance.
This is VDOT’s breakdown, by district, of the agency’s 2013-2014 snow-removal equipment and budget:
For 2013-2014, VDOT has 12,324 pieces of statewide equipment: 3,434 pieces of state equipment, approximately 7,528 pieces of hired equipment and 1,362 pieces of interstate contractor equipment available for snow- and ice-control activities this season.
Hired equipment includes both companies and individuals and their equipment that VDOT keeps on call to clear snow. This is an ongoing process during the winter; hence the equipment numbers may vary each month.
Materials and supplies in stock this season for snow and ice removal include:
• 362,000 tons of salt,
• 100,000 tons of sand,
• 89,000 tons of treated abrasives and
• 566,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride.
VDOT replenishes supplies as they are used through the winter.
In comparison, Virginia spent $207.9 million for snow-removal operations during the winter of 2010-2011 and $266.8 million in 2009-2010, two of the state’s harshest winters in recent memory.
When snow or ice is predicted, VDOT crews pre-treat trouble spots on interstates and other high-volume roads with anti-icing chemicals, including salt brine, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride. These chemicals prevent a bond from forming between the road’s surface and the frozen precipitation.
VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends.
Crews first begin clearing interstates, primary roads and major secondary roads that connect localities, fire stations, employment hubs, military posts, schools, hospitals and other important public facilities. Secondary roads and subdivision streets will be treated if multiday storms hit the commonwealth, but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the most traffic.
A statewide network of 77 weather sensors in roadways and bridges, plus 22 mobile video data platforms, allows crews to quickly identify when and where road surfaces might be freezing.