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O'Malley: Highway shutdown possible

Airports | Amtrak | Buses | Capital Weather Gang | D.C. snow emergency | Plowing plans | Rails | Snow removal | Live traffic

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said he expected conditions to worsen throughout the day during what "we anticipate will be the biggest snow in Maryland history."

"There's always the option of closing down the roads all together," the governor said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post. "As a practical matter, that's pretty hard to enforce because we have so many miles of border shared with other states, so unless they do it, too, it won't work."

With near white-out conditions forecast for Saturday afternoon in some areas, however, O'Malley wouldn't rule out ordering a shut down.

"When it becomes unsafe for the plows to be out there," he said. "If visibility gets reduced to make it too dangerous for the plows, then we'd consider closing the highways."

Just keeping up with the 17,000 miles of state-maintained roads had been a battle so far.

"The best we can do is keep one lane clear, even on the major highways," said O'Malley, who has been traveling between two state emergency command centers. "If you don't have a higher-riding four-wheel drive vehicle, you're not going to be able to get over the ridges in the roads."

O'Malley ordered 200 National Guard troops deployed in Humvees to back up paramedic units across the state.

With more than 20 inches of snow already recorded in Elkridge and another 10 inches expected, the governor said it became problematic to find a place to push the plowed snow once the piles on the road shoulders could accommodate no more.

"For now we'll keep pushing it to the side the best we can," he said. But for the recovery operations we have to load it into trucks and dump it in fields. On the [Chesapeake] Bay Bridge they can just push it over the side. That's what they do, and right now the bridge is clear down to the pavement. Of course, nobody can get to it."

-- Ashley Halsey III

By Michael Bolden  |  February 6, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Weather , highways  | Tags: Maryland highways  
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Next: Md. DOT: Stay off I-95


So here's some advice for the person in the red car that just drove my house which is on a primary road in Arlington County:


You need at least two hands on the wheel in this weather.


Posted by: confident_dem | February 6, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

@confident_dem: "At least two hands"? :o) (Trying to find as much humor in this mess as I can!)

Posted by: map408 | February 6, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

@confident_dem: "drove my house"? :o) (Me, too!)

Posted by: nigel321 | February 6, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Governor Ehrlich shut down the roads in a state of emergency declaration for the February, 2003 blizzard, which dumped 24 inches of snow on the region. I'm surprised it hasn't been declared yet in Maryland this time around.

Posted by: vuac | February 6, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Folks, please knock snow off tree branches where you safely can so we will have some trees come spring.

Posted by: jennybird1 | February 6, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Every truck or SUV that goes by helps clear the roads. It is wet underneath. In places where plows won't go for days, it could mean the only way out for anyone for several days. I'm grateful for those brave SUVs!

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | February 6, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Good advice Jenny. Save the trees because more trees will mean less global warming.

Posted by: freddy666 | February 6, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

ZOMG! With the State of MD having such a budget gap and the neo-cons opposed to government spending, we might be stuck indoors until NEXT WEEK!!!

Posted by: vmrg1974 | February 6, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

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