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Ice Storm Anger Melts Away

It was quiet. Too quiet. In fact, the Waterford reception center in Springfield was dead quiet last night, except for the sound of water flowing in a fountain that forms the centerpiece of the entrance hall.

Moving slowly forward through the dimly lit corridors, alert for charging zombies, I found my way to the room set aside for the Virginia government's forum for public comments on the ice storm that froze the nearby Springfield Interchange on Feb. 12.

Inside, David S. Ekern, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation, was reviewing how motorists came to be stranded for eight hours or more and what his department has done since then to improve its procedures and preparations.

He delivered a good talk to an audience made up mainly of VDOT officials who were there to assist in answering questions from angry citizens. There were about two VDOT officials per angry citizen. The handful of people who wanted to speak weren't even all there to complain about the ice storm.

This was a far cry from the angry crowd that surrounded Dennis Morrison, the former VDOT administrator for Northern Virginia, when he had to explain the HOT lanes program to sluggers in Woodbridge last July.

While the turnout could have led Ekern to believe that public awareness of the Feb. 12 debacle had faded, he promised that "I'll continue to remind myself and my staff of this." In fact, VDOT is developing a plan that will shape its response to stormy weather next winter.

By Robert Thomson  |  April 23, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Weather  
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