O'Malley: Highway shutdown possible
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
February 6, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories: Advisories , Weather , highways | Tags: Maryland highways
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