Jeffrey Caldwell 804-786-2715


Feb. 6, 2010

Historic Storm Response to Take Additional Time, Especially for Secondary Roads and Subdivision Streets in Areas North of I-64

A VDOT snowplow clears I-64 East in Goochland County in the Richmond District. (Photo by Tom Saunders, VDOT)
A VDOT snowplow clears I-64 East in Goochland County
in the Richmond District. (Photo by Tom Saunders, VDOT)

RICHMOND — Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews continue around-the clock efforts to clear historic snowfall accumulations throughout much of the commonwealth. Crews will continue their focus on interstate and primary highways until snowfall ceases overnight. In areas generally north of Interstate 64 and west of the Northern Neck, heavy snowfall accumulations will slow typical plow response times, especially for lower traffic secondary roads and subdivision streets.

“VDOT’s number one priority is clearing roadways to make them safe,” said Gregory Whirley, acting commissioner. “We start with interstate highways and major primary roads with the goal of making all roads passable 48 hours after the end of a typical snowstorm. In the southern and far eastern portions of the state, we will likely achieve that goal. However, because of the historic amount of snow that has fallen in areas of VDOT’s Staunton, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, and Northern Virginia districts—in some places topping two feet of accumulation—we expect it will take us several additional days to clear secondary roads and subdivision streets. We ask for motorists’ patience while we continue working day and night to plow all state-maintained roadways.”

In Northern Virginia, snow-removal is further complicated during this storm as crews are having to haul away truckloads of snow from I-66 and other major highways because snowplows have no place left to push snow from the roadway. This effort adds to the time it takes to clear snow. Below-freezing temperatures also cause snow to pack into ice, which is more difficult and time consuming for road crews to address.

Motorists can expect treacherous road conditions through much of the northern portion of Virginia today and Sunday. VDOT encourages motorists to stay off roads unless travel is absolutely necessary.

The agency reminds motorists to use extreme caution if they must drive, and contact 511 or to get the latest in road closures and traveler information before they decide to leave home.

Drivers should also be wary of black ice forming on roadways that have been cleared as temperatures drop throughout the day and into the overnight hours.

Secondary Road Plowing Information

  • The main, more heavily traveled roads in a subdivision will be plowed first, to be followed by low-volume roads and cul-de-sacs.
  • Plows generally will make one or two trips to provide a path through neighborhood streets, but they will not clear to bare pavement or from curb to curb.
  • Because chemicals are not as heavily used in subdivisions, roads will remain snow-packed and rutted after the plow has passed. Crews will put sand on hills, curves and intersections as needed to provide traction.
  • If planning to shovel their driveways, residents should refrain from clearing the last few feet at the curb until your street is plowed, as plows may inadvertently push snow back into driveways. It also helps to shovel to the right of your driveway as you face the road to help plows keep from pushing snow back into your driveway.
  • VDOT does not remove snow from sidewalks or trails.
  • VDOT plow drivers have assigned routes that include each and every state-maintained road in Virginia.
  • Call 911 if you have a medical emergency and need to leave your home and VDOT will work with emergency responders to reach your home.

Motorist Resources

VDOT has a variety of information sources for road condition updates. The 511 traveler-information service gives drivers the most up-to-date data available about weather, construction and accidents that may affect travel. Updates can be received by calling 511 from any landline or wireless phone or by going online to to view traffic cameras, the road condition map and the road condition table-report. Individuals can sign up for e-mail alerts that include weather and incident reporting on the 511 Web site.

For overall winter weather information, VDOT’s Web site includes frequently asked questions, driving tips and tools for motorists to learn more about VDOT’s winter preparedness at  

Drivers can also view videos detailing how VDOT prepares for winter weather and address snow and ice on You Tube. Snow videos are posted at

For more information about Virginia’s efforts to prepare for winter weather and other emergencies, visit The National Weather Service, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Social Services and other state agencies have created the “Ready Virginia” resource to provide residents and visitors with a one-stop shop for emergency preparedness tips and information.


Editor’s Note: VDOT public affairs staff will be available to address any snow-removal media requests throughout the weekend. To get in touch with your regional public affairs representative, visit 


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: Oct. 17, 2012