Joe Vagi 804-371-8304
Oct. 1, 2015
VDOT CREWS ARE WELL PREPARED FOR MORE RAIN, POSSIBLE HURRICANE
Motorists are urged to prepare and limit travel during the height of the storm
RICHMOND – Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are prepared and stand ready across the state to respond to any unsafe traveling conditions and damage resulting from another round of forecasted heavy rainfall and the possibility of impacts from Hurricane Joaquin.
Rain is expected to impact Virginia through Saturday. Hurricane Joaquin could impact Virginia on Sunday and Monday, depending on its track. VDOT is closely monitoring the statewide storm, with the hardest hit areas expected to be along the coast in the Hampton Roads and Fredericksburg regions.
High winds combined with rain-soaked conditions are likely to weaken trees, causing downed trees and limbs to block roadways. Since heavy rains have already drenched the state, additional rain fall will tend to pond on roads, which is expected to worsen from the possible impacts of Hurricane Joaquin on Sunday.
Conditions change quickly. Motorists are encouraged to monitor weather reports and road conditions before traveling. Driving on area roadways through Sunday or Monday could be hazardous as a result of heavy rain and wind gusts. VDOT recommends drivers delay travel until unsafe weather conditions have passed.
What is happening today across the state:
- 2,500 VDOT crews and contractors are prepared to clear roadsfrom expected heavy rains, fallen trees and other debris.
- Additional contract debris removal and tree crews are on standby.
- VDOT has begun preparations for Hurricane Joaquin at Hampton Roads tunnels, moveable bridges and ferries.
- Based on current forecasts, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT) should not be impacted by the tidal events. The district will test tide gates at the HRBT 2am Friday morning.
- Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) is prepared to shut the Midtown Tunnel if needed should tide levels reach potential flooding levels. ERC will test the tunnel gate at 10 tonight.
- Merry Pointe and Sunnybank ferries are closed throughout the storm. Normal operations continue at the Jamestown Scotland Ferry.
- Crews are repairing damaged roads from flooding that occurred this week in the Salem, Staunton, Culpeper districts.
- Nine roadways are washed out and VDOT is working on emergency repairs.
- Early flooding has been reported in the Southampton County communities of Franklin and Capron where rural roads often flood first.
Road clearing priorities:
- Crews will first clear roads that provide access to hospitals and emergency facilities, followed by interstates and major primaries. Once those roads are cleared, they will focus on the secondary system.
- VDOT only closes bridges, ramps or roads when there is eminent danger to public safety such as high water, strong sustained winds, structural damage, or downed trees and debris blocking the roadway. Following a hurricane, crews in conjunction with utility companies, work to clear all roadways of debris. Roads will be cleared and opened as quickly, and safely, as possible.
While VDOT urges motorists to limit travel, if you are driving in bad weather, keep the following in mind:
- Expect the unexpected. Be prepared to slow or stop quickly and without warning.
- Keep headlights on while it’s raining: it’s the law.
- Drive at a speed that enables you to stop quickly and safely within the distance illuminated by the vehicle’s headlights.
- Turn Around, Don’t Drown! 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 loss of control due to hydroplaning.
- Avoid flood-prone areas, especially along creeks and other low-lying areas.
- Be alert for tree limbs and other debris in the roadway. Even small branches and other debris can damage a car or cause the driver to lose control.
- If you come across a downed power line, do not try to move it. Contact your local authorities.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
During storms with high winds:
- Anticipate gusts.
- Be aware of large vehicles such as tractor trailers and recreational vehicles. They are more susceptible to high winds and drivers may have difficulties staying in their lanes.
- Keep a firm grip on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle.
- Know the road conditions before you go. Call 511 or visit www.511Virginia.org to find out what roads may be closed and any weather-related traffic conditions in your area.
- Residents and motorists can also call VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD to report hazardous road conditions or need to speak with a customer service representative.
- For the latest list of road closures go to http://www.511virginia.org/mobile/?menu_id=conditions
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.