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VDOT: 500,000 tons to clear

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

1:37 p.m. UPDATE: More from VDOT on its efforts:

  • Estimates it will remove 500,000 tons of snow in Northern Virginia.
  • Equipment from Richmond and Hampton Roads will move to Northern Virginia on Tuesday to assist with the effort.
  • Crews will be using special equipment, such as graders, bucket loaders, tandems and backhoes in neighborhoods. The interstate trucks are too big to work there and the normal trucks can't handle the job.

Original post: It could be days before the Virginia Department of Transportation finishes plowing neighborhoods in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

VDOT says snow-clearing crews are working 24 hours a day but they must first focus on interstates and primary roads. With more than 30 inches in some areas of the Washington region, it's a Herculean task that could be complicated by additional snowfall on Tuesday.

Here is VDOT's policy on plowing subdivisions:

  • The main, more heavily traveled roads in a subdivision will be plowed first, to be followed by low-volume roads and cul-de-sacs.
  • Plows will make one or two trips to provide a path through neighborhood streets, but they will not clear to bare pavement or from curb to curb.
  • Because chemicals are not used in subdivisions, roads will remain snowpacked and rutted after the plow has passed. Crews will put sand on hills, curves and intersections as needed to provide traction.
  • If planning to shovel their driveways, residents should try to refrain from clearing the last few feet at the curb until your street is plowed, as plows may push snow back into driveways. It also helps to shovel to the right as you face the road.
  • VDOT does not remove snow from sidewalks or trails. VDOT plow drivers have assigned routes that include each and every state-maintained road in northern Virginia.

VDOT asks that residents contact the agency if they have not seen a plow in their subdivision by Wednesday. Call 703-383-VDOT or e-mail with the location.

By Michael Bolden  |  February 7, 2010; 9:51 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Weather  | Tags: VDOT  
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Next: MoCo: Crews focused on main roads


Oh, man, I know how long it used to take VDOT to get to the subdivisions back when we HAD money. But, hey, can't raise the gas tax, right?

Posted by: gfriday | February 7, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Just one pass through the neighborhood, won't do it. A plow made one pass through our subdivision and the 4WD's are getting stuck. The roads are impassable.

Posted by: livia53 | February 7, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Maybe its time for Virginia residents to re-think the whole "state maintains everything" policy. Your little cul-de-sac does not serve a statewide function, and therefore should be maintained by local government. That way, the state can concentrate on interstates and main roads, and at the same time, the local government can plow the neighborhoods out.

Virginia residents asked for the state to take over all the roads in the 1930's, because they didnt want to pay county taxes to maintain them. The lack of snowplows in neighborhoods for days after the storm is a direct result of that choice made 80 years ago.

Posted by: thetan | February 7, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

thetan: Don't forget that many of these subdivisions lack municipal governments entirely, due to the trend of HOAs replacing towns and cities!

On the other hand, even having a municipal government sometimes isn't enough, if all of your town's snowplows break down. In this case, there is a third option -- dig out your own street with a shovel.

My neighbors and I have been clearing our street all day, and most of us can now get our cars out onto the main road. (Living in PG County helps here, due to the large number of blue-collar workers. In a neighborhood full of office workers, maybe this wouldn't go so well.)

Posted by: stuckman | February 7, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Alexandria plows its own streets, instead of having VDOD do it. They plowed my little deadend street today, right down to the asphalt. I'm half a block from Fairfax County. So glad I don't live there!

Posted by: dottie_b | February 7, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

stuckman, the county would be the municipal or local government in the case of an un-incorporated area.

Good for you all for taking the initiative to clear your street. I'm sure the office workers could physically clear the street if they wanted to...its their attitude that would get in the way.

Posted by: thetan | February 7, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I drove into DC for the Caps game today. Amazing thing is that the street into and out of my neighborhood, which is in the VDOT system (not the street on which I live, just the one that goes in and out) was in outstanding shape--on the way home this afternoon, it was clear down to the asphalt and was FAR better than either I-395 or Franconia Road. Amazing job by VDOT's plow.

The HOA plow came through at 9:00 after coming through last night as well. That's what prompted me to go to the game--had the HOA not plowed my block, I wouldn't have gotten out, but they scraped it down to a layer of ice. Still had to back all the way down the block in reverse to access the road out, but that's no big deal.

Posted by: 1995hoo | February 7, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I'd wager that your HOA plow got the VDOT road too.

Posted by: thetan | February 8, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

My street (on a hill) in my Huntington subdivision was skipped over by the plows after the snow storm. Others were plowed out Saturday and Sunday, along with the neighboring subdivision. There is no way to alert VDOT of this oversight - the phone line is not taking calls or messages.

Does VDOT verify their plowing subcontractors' work before paying them, or just rely on their word?

Posted by: swingruss | February 8, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Our block in Vienna has not been touched by plows, although we neighbors have dug out a barely passable track to Vale Road. Meanwhile two large plow trucks contracted by the State have run back and forth on Vale all day since Saturday, easily 40 passes doing nothing on the dry road. When I stop and ask them to turn the corner, they tell me the state won't let them onto side roads which are "the responsibility of the county." They are collecting money to do nothing while we sit trapped, and there is no number to call and complain. Great first test of "smaller government" by our new administration. This is a corrupt joke, and no one is in charge.

Posted by: rhamberger | February 8, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

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