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Road conditions improving throughout region

Most main roads in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District are passable this afternoon, but plows have yet to reach many residential neighborhoods.

District residents should expect a plow sometime today, in Virginia some residential streets may not be cleared until Wednesday, and in Maryland the speed with which those streets are plowed with vary from one county to the next.

John Lisle, spokesman for the District Department of Transportation:

"The main roads are in great shape. The weather is cooperating today and our crews are making great progress. For sure, all of the main roads will be clear by Monday morning."

"The thing we need to do is to make sure the outside lanes [on main streets], where the snow has been piling up, are cleared before rush hour. That's what we're focusing on, getting the shoulders clear."

"We have a lot of wet roads and we're looking at the possibility of refreezing if it gets back into the 20s Sunday night. But we're trying to prepare for that."

"The other key piece is residential streets. That's where we have the most work to do. Our benchmark is to have residential streets plowed within 24 hours of the end of the snow."

"We're telling people we should get there today, and they should call 311 by the end of the day if we haven't, and a crew will be sent out. But it's going to be tough for residents to dig their cars out."

Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration:

"We're making great progress. With the sun out, that's a help. The guys are out there working and salting so we don't get a refreeze."

"We're down to wet pavement in many places. In a lot of areas the secondary roads and ramps still have some [snow] cover."

"On the interstates, 485, 270 and 95, we're getting passable lanes. There are some shoulders that are snow covered and we're working to clear them. We're also working to open up some lanes that have been narrow."

Joan Morris, Virginia Department of Transportation's spokeswoman for Northern Virginia:

"The roads are incredibly improved from yesterday. The interstates are primarily just wet. On the main roads, they are very passable but there's lots of slush and we urge people to take it easy."

"Subdivisions are another matter. We've got 7,000 miles of streets in subdivisions in Prince William, Loudoun and Fairfax. You can't put your big equipment into those streets, so we have to use smaller equipment."

"Right now we're going to say that we'll have them clear by Wednesday night. That won't be curb-to-curb clear. We'll cut a path through every subdivison street. People will have to dig out their cars and their driveways to reach it."

"We're trying to get commuter parking lots on [interstate] 95 and 66 cleared out by tonight, although we might not get to some of them until Monday night. We have thousands of parking spaces in those lots."

From Britt Drewes, spokeswoman for VDOT at state headquarters in Richmond.

"Overall, statewide, conditions are improving. The sun is helping. We're telling people that even though it's a sunny day they should stay off the roads. There's black ice out there, and it's going to be a while before we get to all the secondary roads and side streets."

She said that hundreds of cars that were abandoned during the storm are blocking snow plows, and the process of digging them out has closed to of Virginia's major highways: Route 29 in the Charlottesville area and Interstate 81 near Lexington in Rockbridge County.

"There were stranded vehicles that were left behind and we need to get those vehicles out before we can plow."

She said 29 was the worst.

"On route 29 upwards of 200 vehicles were abandoned, including tractor-trailers and passenger cars. It was a massive problem. There's no shoulder along there, so getting the wreckers and plows in their to pull them out is quite a feat."

By Ashley Halsey  |  December 20, 2009; 1:21 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Driving , Safety , Weather , holiday travel  
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