Storm Recovery Update

January 26, 2016

As our area continues to dig out from the storm, I want to share with you the latest information I’ve received from VDOT and area transportation officials (Please see information below.)

Also, if you are traveling about the area this week, I urge you to use caution and allow for extra travel time. As you may know, many roads have portions of lanes, especially turn lanes, still inaccessible due to the immense snow banks. This can cause new traffic patterns and reduced visibility when turning or merging, so extra caution and reduced speed is needed.

Additionally, I understand the roads in the Bull Run Mountain district require considerable attention to be fully drivable again. However I have received recent updates that the contractor is now making significant process, and I will continue to monitor the progress. I greatly appreciate the early efforts by private citizens to help clear the roads that weren’t able to be accessed.

Thank you for your patience and neighborly courtesy during this storm and snow removal process. I have already heard about a few impressive acts of service being provided in the community, and look forward to hearing many more. Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information and assistance.

Sincerely,

Pete Candland, Supervisor
Gainesville Magisterial District

VDOT News- 1.26.15- 5 A.M.
TRAVEL UPDATE: NORTHERN VIRGINIA

Significant progress but limit travel to give equipment room;
Icy conditions possible on cleared roads

As of 5 a.m., interstates and primaries in Northern Virginia are mostly in passable condition, and crews are making significant progress on secondary roads and subdivision streets. Motorists should continue to limit travel to give crews room for snow removal efforts. If travel is a must, use extreme caution as even clear pavement is likely to be slick due to snow melting during the day and refreezing overnight.

Crews continue to work 12-hour shifts, around the clock, to plow and treat all roads.
In addition to the overnight refreeze, drivers should be alert to varying conditions and sudden changes on all roads.
What drivers should know:

  • High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) restrictions are being lifted today due to the federal government closure.
  • Traffic is beginning to increase. Limit travel, as traffic slows down the movement of heavy equipment and redeployment of smaller vehicles.
  • If travel is a must, be alert to crews stationed with heavy equipment to move the massive volumes of snow. Reduce speeds and keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles, do not pass snowplows or other equipment.
  • Expect limited visibility from high snow mounds encroaching on merges, intersections, and ramps.
  • Due to the massive snowfall, passable secondary and some primary roads may have only one lane, narrow access points, and will not be cleared curb-to-curb.

Other VDOT resources:

VDOT’s Northern Virginia District includes Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington counties

Northern Virginia District
January 25, 2016 Update
Overview

  • We appreciate the patience and understanding that we’ve received from the general public. This is not a typical Virginia snowstorm. This is the biggest blizzard that we have responded to in almost 30 years. Every part of our district has been affected, albeit differently. We will continue to work 24/7 until our work is complete. Recovery from a blizzard this large will take days, not hours, with cleanup likely to last into the weekend. We will continue to experience the melting and refreezing cycle for the rest of the week.
  • We are working to plow 13,000 road miles, including 16,000 subdivision streets. We have made considerable progress, but the phase of response that we are now in requires a lot of time.

Resources

  • We are using equipment from VDOT, as well as private contractors. We continue to reach out to anyone who may have heavy equipment, including quarries and contractors. VDOT resources have been deployed to us from the following districts: Lynchburg, Salem, Bristol, Richmond, and Hampton Roads. Equipment has been brought in from as far as Connecticut. We invite those with loaders or motor graders to contact our procurement section at 703-259-3240.
  • 4,000 pieces of equipment are in service. We are at the highest mobilization level and currently looking to maintain that for the next 48 hours. Equipment will continue to be redeployed to other areas of the district as they complete their current task.
  • However, if any piece of equipment is needed for emergency services, it will be redeployed immediately, even if it is mid-task elsewhere. Drivers may also leave to refuel, address a mechanical issue, to eat, or for rest. Driver fatigue is a very real and dangerous condition, and some of our drivers have been working daily since Wednesday.

Subdivisions

  • Subdivisions are divided into sections that we call snow maps. Each snow map is about 8-10 miles, depending upon terrain, schools, or additional challenges. The Northern Virginia District contains more than 600 snow maps. When a plow driver is assigned a snow map, all of the streets on the map are listed “in progress.” When the driver returns to the area headquarters after the entire map is complete, then and only then is the map (and all of the streets contained within) listed as complete.
  • Within subdivisions, the first priority addressed is the major arteries. From there, we will address cul-de-sacs. You may see us treat a major artery several times before we address a cul-de-sac. The arteries must remain passable for the rest of our operations to be successful.
  • Smaller plow trucks are effective in conditions up to around 10”. Some parts of our district received upwards of 40”. We are using smaller trucks where they remain effective.
  • We have four times the amount of equipment as we did a few years ago, but the type of equipment that we need for this phase of the response is much larger scale.
  • To be the most efficient, we are not hauling snow, but simply moving it out of the roadway. Work in subdivisions now requires heavy equipment that must be put on trailers and driven to subdivisions. Work that would take a plow one hour to do takes between 8-10 hours for a heavy equipment to complete.

Current Status

  • We have seen an increase in the amount of traffic. Even if your subdivision is passable, please stay off of the roads. It slows down the movement of heavy equipment and the redeployment of smaller vehicles. As well, vehicles parked on the road can hinder the arrival of large equipment. Please use extreme caution around heavy equipment.
  • We are prioritizing streets that have not yet been plowed.
  • We are making real progress on the interstates. They are passable, but not all lanes are open. As is the case with major arterials, they have required additional treatment to address melting and refreezing issues. For your own safety, use extreme caution when entering and exiting the interstates.
  • The primary roads are progressing, but expect merging difficulties and limited visibility as turn lanes and ramps remain hazardous.
  • The demand on our customer service center has caused server problems. They are being addressed, but we implore residents to not call the customer service center. We are aware of which streets have been completed and which are still outstanding. We have not forgotten about anyone.