Va. transportation chief says state did its best to deal with snowstorm
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said Thursday that state officials responded as "best as we could under the circumstances'' of Wednesday's storm that dropped as much as nine inches in parts of Northern Virginia.
Connaughton said transportation department workers were stymied by rain that washed away pre-treated salt from roads and an earlier -than-anticipated rush hour when the federal government let employees go two hours early. An enormous number of cars were abandoned on roads, which state police have been towing.
"When you have the most congested region in the country...bad things are going to happen,'' he said.
As of early Thursday morning, 500,000 customers had no power in Northern Virginia and 200 traffic signals were out.
Connaughton said that as of 10 a.m. all interstates in the state were clear while other roads had minor problems and icy patches.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has received regular briefs on the storm but was unavailable for comment because he was burying his father, John F. "Jack" McDonnell, at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday. He has no public events scheduled for Thursday.
State officials did not consider declaring an emergency -- which would allow the National Guard to be activated and supplies and equipment to be mobilized quicker -- because that is only done for major natural disasters.
About four inches fell in Arlington County, five inches in Fairfax and Prince William and nine inches in Loudoun, according to state totals.
State offices in Northern Virginia remained open Thursday.
More than 2,200 pieces of equipment were used to clear snow, as transportation department employees worked all night.
| January 27, 2011; 1:45 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell, Transportation
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