Joan Morris 703-259-1799
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Jenni McCord 703-259-1779
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Nov. 18, 2014

Online neighborhood tool again part of plan to clear 16,000 subdivision streets in northern Virginia

FAIRFAX─ The Virginia Department of Transportation’s neighborhood-plowing website and plow-tracking program will again be among tools the agency will use this winter in northern Virginia.

“We have seen a great success in the website so far,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s maintenance engineer for northern Virginia, at today’s annual snow briefing. “Even in last year’s heavy snows we saw a drastic drop in customer service calls, and we think that is because drivers and residents can get instant answers to their questions with real-time visuals of road conditions and specific progress of our snow crews.”

VDOT is responsible for 17,737 lane miles in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties (Arlington County maintains its own secondary roads). About half of those miles are highways, and half are neighborhood streets. In northern Virginia, VDOT has one snow removal program for interstates and high-volume roads such as routes 1, 7, 15, 28, 50, and the Fairfax County Parkway, and another program for subdivisions. During winter weather, crews work on both concurrently.

Last winter’s budget for northern Virginia was $63 million and $152 million was spent. This year’s budget is $52 million. A new way of tracking state labor costs makes the figure lower, but overall the funds available for snow removal are about the same as last year. The region’s snow removal budget is part of VDOT’s overall statewide maintenance budget of approximately $1.5 billion.

Highlights for winter 2014-15:

Neighborhood plowing page: Residents are encouraged to continue using to monitor 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 a color-coded snow map shows whether plowing is underway, completed or not yet started in their neighborhood.

Equipment: More than 4,000 trucks and plows are available and all are equipped with automatic vehicle locator (AVL) equipment. Special equipment includes:

  • A jet-powered snow melter for park-n-ride lots where massive snow piles block spaces.
  • Seven high-pressure flush trucks clear snow and ice around the bollards separating the I-495 Express Lanes and regular lanes.
  • 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.
  • Two super-sized front loaders plow interstates with 20-foot wide blades during severe storms.
  • Speed-activated anti-icing equipment puts the right amount of material on the road.

A super-sized salt dome at the Beltway and Van Dorn Street holding 22,000 tons – about three times the capacity of a typical dome – helps ensure that crews do not run low during severe storms.

Pre-treating: Crews will pre-treat 850 lane miles of trouble spots including:

  • 350 lane miles on interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495—including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange and Capital Beltway at Route 1—with liquid magnesium chloride.
  • 500 lane miles on major roads, such as Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29, and 50, are pre-treated with salt brine. Brine (77 percent water, 23 percent salt) prevents ice from bonding to the road surface, reduces the need for salt to melt ice, is kinder to the environment and can lower snow removal time and costs.

New brine application pilot in Chantilly: This winter, crews will test an additional brine method on several roads in the Chantilly area. Crews will pre-treat the pavement with brine, plow when snow has fallen and then re-treat with brine. VDOT will test the effectiveness of this method, which has seen success in some Western states and could further reduce the need for salt.

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: March 10, 2017