Greg Bilyeu 804-786-4243

March 5, 2013

Commuters urged to stay off the roads

RICHMOND – Across the state, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are prepared for a winter storm that could potentially bring more than a foot of wet, heavy snow to some parts of the state including northwest and northern Virginia. 

According to the National Weather Service, forecasts show rain turning to snow Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

VDOT crews across the state are prepared and ready to respond. Crews will be out working in 12-hour shifts, 24-hours-a-day, to clear roads throughout this winter weather event.

“VDOT crews began coordinating and preparing late last week in anticipation of another statewide winter storm,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley. “Crews and contractors have been notified for mobilization, equipment is ready and materials and supply sites have been replenished. District offices predicted to have less snowfall are preparing teams to assist other districts and areas across the state throughout the storm. Emergency tree removal contractors are on standby as strong winds could bring down trees and power lines, as are wrecker and tow truck contractors to remove disabled vehicles from travel lanes.”

VDOT advises motorists to be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. And most importantly, be where you need to be before the weather gets bad. Commuters in affected areas are urged to delay travel on Wednesday if possible and let VDOT crews clear the roads.

Year-to-date expenditures on snow removal efforts are approximately $96.5 million. This leaves approximately 33 percent of the agency’s snow budget to be spent on the snow removal efforts in Fiscal Year 2013.

VDOT’s Customer Service Center is also bringing in extra help to handle expected increased call volumes. Please call the Customer Service Center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623) with questions or to report unsafe conditions and call 511 or visit before you travel for the latest road and traffic conditions.

Northern Virginia Snow Response

In northern Virginia, VDOT will begin deploying more than 4,000 salt trucks and plows throughout the region by 4 a.m. Wednesday in preparation for up to a foot of wet, heavy snow.

The snowplow-tracker map, which is activated once more than two inches of snow has fallen, is at A video on how to use the website is available on VDOT’s YouTube site at

Once two inches have fallen, major routes are treated with chemicals and plowed. In subdivisions and other low-volume roads, hills and other trouble spots are treated with sand and plowed when two inches have accumulated. Click here for more information on northern Virginia’s snow removal program, and report road problems to 1-800-FOR-ROAD or

VDOT reminds motorists to use caution when driving during winter weather.

Drivers should:

  • Check current weather, road conditions and traffic before traveling at or by calling 511
  • Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination
  • Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges
  • Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind vehicles and snowplows

Pre-Treating Roads

When snow or ice is predicted, VDOT crews pre-treat trouble spots on interstates and other high-volume roads with anti-icing chemicals, including salt brine, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride. These chemicals prevent a bond from forming between the road’s surface and the frozen precipitation. 

Road Priorities

VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends. Crews first begin clearing interstates, primary roads and major secondary roads that connect localities, fire stations, employment hubs, military posts, schools, hospitals and other important public facilities.

Secondary roads and subdivision streets will be treated if multiday storms hit the commonwealth, but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the most traffic. A statewide network of 77 weather sensors in roadways and bridges, plus 22 mobile video data platforms, allows crews to quickly identify when and where road surfaces might be freezing.




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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: March 5, 2013