ALEXANDRIA, Va. — D.C., Maryland, and Virginia got busy preparing for messy morning commutes, as the region’s first winter storm of the year approached. The big concern this time is ice. Crews have been laying down salt and brine since Tuesday night.
In Virginia, VDOT crews started loading up with “abrasives” (think salt, sand) early Wednesday morning – before 6 a.m., so they are ready to combat the ice as it starts to fall in northern Virginia Wednesday night.
VDOT said they will not be laying liquid pretreatment everywhere, because the rain will wash it away before it can prove effective against icing.
That’s why they’re focusing on the salt and sand as they monitor the forecast.
Even though WUSA 9 Meteorologist Chester Lampkin is not forecasting snow, VDOT is still putting out updates on their preparation based on the I-95 snow disaster from January that stranded drivers for more than 24 hours.
VDOT said they’re implementing the following changes based on the I-95 incident audit:
- Improved contracting to be more flexible, competitive and attractive to contractors to address equipment and personnel shortages.
- Improved communications and command structure for better internal and interagency cooperation during crisis events.
- Assigned staff to drive routes and report on conditions to supplement traffic cameras.
- Acquired a system to allow two-way communications between drivers and VDOT within a defined geographic area.
- Continued participation in winter weather exercises, led by The Virginia Department of Emergency Management, to foster interagency cooperation.
A spokesperson for MDOT said they will be releasing a more specific plan on this event’s preparation later Wednesday, but their website has general information now.
MDOT said they’ll be laying down salt and brine to get ready for the storm.
Montgomery County, in particular, is focusing on reducing salt usage in winter preps.
They’re launching a “Salt Wise” campaign to educate people on how to most effectively use salt and prepare roads to reduce environmental impact.
Officials will be providing more information at an event at 4:45 a.m. Thursday morning.
Drivers can do their own preparation if they have to head out in the icy weather.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office put out some tips:
- Ice scraper, snow shovel, and/or broom.
- Sand or cat litter in case your vehicle is stuck in the snow.
- Jumper cables, flashlight (with extra batteries), reflective triangles, flares, brightly colored and/or reflective clothing, and other warning devices.
- Blankets, water, food, necessary medicine, a first aid kit, and a cell phone charger.
D.C. crews started laying Brine Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, focusing on bridges, overpasses, highways, and elevated roads.
A spokesperson said they have 30,000 pounds of salt and 86,000 gallons of brine to work with.
Crews are also putting down pet-friendly abrasives on pedestrian bridges to help with traction.
DDOT wants to remind businesses and homeowners that they are required to clear sidewalks within eight hours of the weather event stopping.