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Changes implemented to avoid another I-95 shutdown in Virginia > Virginia

Other changes include improvements to interstate signage and communication between Virginia Transportation Authorities.

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia — In January, a crippling snowstorm pinned motorists for hours on Interstate 95 in northern Virginia. Now, as we head into the winter months, Virginia transportation officials say they are taking new steps to ensure this never happens again.

On Monday, January 3, the morning growl began after a tractor-trailer jacked up and more tractor-trailers followed. When the storm began, 10 inches of snow fell in a short space of time, VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich told reporters Jan. 4.

The drivers were stuck in their cars overnight. Many of them were without food, water or a way to keep warm. On Tuesday, the Virginia State Police shared with us their plans to ensure the traffic nightmare doesn’t repeat itself.

First of all, one of the problems with the attack was that no one in the leadership knew how bad things were. Traffic cameras in the area had lost power because of the storm. VSP now says they have a number of drones they can fly to see traffic disruptions and plan detours.

Second, Virginia officials in all agencies deal with internal communications problems. During an emergency like the one in January, VSP, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and the Virginia Office of Emergency Management (OEM) plan to all work in the same room so everyone is on the same page.

The plan also envisages cutting red tape when it comes to hiring VDOT contractors for road preparation and snow removal, potentially with higher wages and signing bonuses.

Virginia officials say they are also working to improve external communications and let the public know better what’s going on. A follow-up report compiled a few months after I-95 grounded found that Virginia officials had not done enough to warn drivers of the interstate’s horrendous delays and congestion. The report recommended more persuasive messages with a more authoritative tone.

All of this won’t stop the next big storm, but leaders hope it will minimize its impact.

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