VDOT preparing for threat of winter weather

Published 2:52 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Anticipating the area’s first bout with winter weather this season, the Virginia Department of Transportation began preparing roads throughout Western Tidewater on Tuesday afternoon. With a mixture of low temperatures and wet roads expected overnight, crews were focusing their effort on anti-icing measures along state routes 58 and 460, including bridges and ramps along the route, as they’re typically the first to freeze during winter storms.

As temperatures fell toward freezing throughout the evening, VDOT continued to spray the primary routes with brine — a highly-concentrated saltwater solution — in hopes that it would prevent ice from forming. Once completed, VDOT then focused on the secondary roads throughout the city of Franklin, as well as Isle of Wight and Southampton counties.

VDOT spokesperson Laurie Simmons noted, however, that there are several circumstances in which the secondary roads may not get pre-treated prior to the storm, mainly due to time restraints. Simmons said that VDOT’s Safety Service Patrols closely monitored all bridges and ramps throughout the night in order to create a plan of action from there.

Once the freezing precipitation began to fall from the sky, Simmons said, VDOT deployed salt trucks on the roadways. Franklin officials had one salt truck loaded and ready to go, and two more on standby as the storm hit; Isle of Wight and Southampton County public works could not be reached for comment.

The National Weather Service in Wakefield issued a winter weather advisory for the entire Hampton Roads area from midnight to 1 p.m. today, Jan. 14, with freezing rain, ice and sleet expected to fall during the early morning hours — subject to change based on weather projections.

VDOT wants to remind motorists to always use extreme caution and reduce speed when traveling during these conditions. The department also encourages drivers to keep an emergency driving kit in your car; prepare your vehicle by keeping windows, lights and mirrors clean; keep a safe driving distance between other vehicles; and allow for additional travel time.

For the latest information regarding the winter weather conditions and advisories, visit www.511virginia.org, call 511 or listen to Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) 1680 AM.