Joan Morris 703-259-1799

Jennifer McCord 703-259-1779


Nov. 14, 2012

4,000 trucks and plows ready to clear 16,000 streets in northern Virginia

FAIRFAX─A mobile weather station for roads, a new 22,000-ton salt dome, a fleet of trucks to help clear the I-495 Express Lanes, and a pilot program where the public can track snow removal in their neighborhoods are among the new tools the Virginia Department of Transportation will use this winter in northern Virginia.

 “We continue to enhance our snow removal program to align with increasingly severe winter weather,” said VDOT northern Virginia maintenance engineer Branco Vlacich at today’s annual snow briefing.

Here’s what’s new for winter 2012-13:

A web tool shows the status of plowing in northern Virginia neighborhoods. Once it snows more than two inches, residents in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties can enter their address and see a color-coded snow map that shows whether plowing is underway, completed or not yet started in their neighborhood.

A truck-mounted weather station provides mobile measurements on road conditions (dry, moist, wet, snow, ice), as well as surface, dew point and air temperature, humidity and thickness of ice. This helps ensure that crews do not over- or under-apply chemicals.

A super-sized salt dome located at the Beltway and Van Dorn Street was added to help ensure that crews don’t run low on materials during severe storms. The dome will hold 22,000 tons of salt – about three times the capacity of a typical salt dome.

Four super-sized front loaders that can push snow with 20-foot wide blades or scoop snow with massive buckets. This new equipment will help clear interstates during severe storms.

Seven high-pressure flush trucks are dedicated to clearing snow and ice that accumulate around the bollards that separate the new 495 Express Lanes from the regular lanes.

A portable snow melter will be used in park-n-ride lots where massive piles of snow take away needed parking spaces. 

More equipment: Nearly 4,000 trucks and plows, mostly contracted, are available for snow and ice removal in northern Virginia. That’s 1,200 more trucks than during the severe winter of 2010.

Expanded pre-treating: Crews will pre-treat 850 lane miles (up from 600) of trouble spots including:

  • 350 lane miles (up from 300) on interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495—including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange and the Capital Beltway interchange at Route 1—with liquid magnesium chloride.
  • Another 500 lane miles (up from 300) on major roads, such as the Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50 and 123, are pre-treated with salt brine.

More brine, less salt:  As the pre-treatment program is expanded, the need for salt to melt ice is reduced.  Brine, which is 77 percent water and 23 percent salt, is kinder to the environment and less costly.

Last winter’s budget for northern Virginia was $55 million and $35 million was spent.  This year’s budget is $55 million.

VDOT is responsible for 17,737 lane miles in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties (Arlington County maintains its own secondary roads). About half of those miles are highways, and half are neighborhood streets.

VDOT’s winter resources:


Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Nov. 15, 2012