Dawn Eischen 804-524-6179
Aug. 26, 2011
VDOT PREPARES FOR HURRICANE IRENE
Interstate maintenance/construction suspended through Sunday
COLONIAL HEIGHTS—The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is preparing to keep Richmond area roadways and motorists safe as the potential for flooding, heavy rain, high winds and debris associated with Hurricane Irene remains high for the region.
In preparation for the storm, VDOT and maintenance contractors have been:
- inspecting and clearing culverts, ditches and inlets to prevent water from collecting on roadways during heavy rain
- removing debris from the road and shoulder that could block drains,
- removing loose vegetation that could be uprooted by high wind,
- preparing chainsaws and equipping vehicles with necessary equipment (ropes, flashlights, flares, extra chains for chainsaws, batteries),
- and, inspecting and fueling vehicles.
Interstate maintenance and construction activities have been suspended through Sunday night to facilitate an increase in traffic as motorists evacuate the Hampton Roads area. The suspension could be extended if road conditions have not improved by Monday.
VDOT crews and staff will begin emergency operations tomorrow morning—working 12 hour shifts throughout the storm. Emergency operations will continue to assist emergency responders with traffic control, detours or road closures. VDOT personnel will suspend emergency response activities in the event of sustained tropical storm winds of 39 mph or higher. Once conditions have improved, crews will work around the clock to clear all roadways of debris.
Traveling on area roadways tomorrow could be hazardous as a result of heavy rain and wind gusts. VDOT recommends drivers delay travel until unsafe weather conditions have passed. Motorists are encouraged to monitor weather reports and road conditions before traveling and take the following precautions:
- Never drive through water flowing across a road. It takes only six to 12 inches of water to float a small vehicle.
- Never drive around barricades. Remember, the road has been closed for your safety.
- Slow down when driving through standing water. Driving too fast through water could cause you to lose control and hydroplane.
- Avoid flood-prone areas, especially along creeks and other low-lying areas. Water in those areas can rise quickly and without warning during heavy rains.
- In the event of a flash flood warning for your area, seek high ground immediately.
- Watch for debris on the roadway. If you encounter a downed power line, do not try to move the line. Downed trees may contain power lines. Contact VDOT or Dominion Virginia Power.
Real-time listings of road conditions in Virginia are available on VDOT’s 24-hour traffic and travel information website, www.511Virginia.org or by calling 511. Bridge and road closures, including all secondary road closures, will be listed on the website. Richmond area traffic information is also available on Twitter @511centralVA.
VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623) is open 24 hours a day. Agents will be available to answer customer questions and record any reports of downed trees and road hazards.
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.