Jennifer McCord 703-259-1779
Jeanene Harris 703-259-2420
Nov. 12, 2015
VDOT: OUR PEOPLE AND PLOWS ARE READY
Equipment, materials, and website part of plan to clear 17,000 lane miles in northern Virginia
FAIRFAX─The Virginia Department of Transportation’s neighborhood-plowing website, plow-tracking technology, and expanded on-road monitoring are among the tools the agency will use this winter in northern Virginia.
“Each year, we strive to improve our winter operations both on the road and behind the scenes,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s maintenance engineer for northern Virginia, at today’s annual snow briefing. “We continue to encourage residents to use the website for real-time information on their neighborhoods during snow storms. Over two years, we’ve seen hits to the site increase while customer calls decrease, as residents check road conditions, locations of our trucks and the progress of our 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 or high-volume routes, and half are neighborhood streets. During winter weather in northern Virginia, crews remove snow on both networks concurrently.
Last winter’s budget for northern Virginia was about $50.5 million and $128.5 million was spent. This year’s budget is $70.7 million. The region’s snow budget is part of VDOT’s overall statewide maintenance budget of approximately $1.5 billion.
Highlights for winter 2015-16
Neighborhood plowing status: For the third year, when it snows more than two inches, residents of Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William can enter their address at www.vdotplows.org to see whether plowing is underway, completed or not yet started in their neighborhood. They can also track the location of plows in relationship to their house. The site is refreshed every five minutes.
Equipment: More than 3,500 contracted trucks and plows are available and equipped with automatic vehicle locator (AVL) equipment. Special equipment includes:
- A jet-powered snow melter for park-n-ride lots where snow piles can block spaces.
- Seven high-pressure flush trucks clear snow and ice around the bollards separating the I-495 Express Lanes and regular lanes.
- Two front loaders with 20-foot blades plow interstates during severe storms.
- Speed-activated anti-icing equipment puts the right amount of material on the road.
Crews will pre-treat 850 lane miles of trouble spots including:
- 350 lane miles on interstates—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.
Monitor program expanded: This year, 150 VDOT employees will be assigned on-road duty to monitor road conditions and snowplow progress. This works out to about one monitor for every five snow assignment maps in northern Virginia.
Chantilly brine pilot continues: For the second year, crews will pre-treat several roads with brine, plow when snow has fallen and then re-treat with brine. VDOT is testing the effectiveness of this method, which has seen success in some Western states and could further reduce the need for salt.
Resources for drivers and residents
- See the status of plowing in northern Virginia neighborhoods: www.vdotplows.org
- Follow VDOT Northern Virginia on Twitter: @vadotnova
- Report safety concerns: 800-367-7623
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.