VDOT preparing for wintry weather

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The possibility of any wintry weather has VDOT on high alert. The agency's been hit hard by budget cuts, but says that won't affect the safety of Virginians on the road this weekend. In fact, VDOT leaders say they're better off this year than they were last year.

Last winter's heavy snowfall is paying dividends for VDOT this winter.

"Our emergency funds are not affected by the recent economy and budget cuts through VDOT," said Taya Jarman, VDOT.

The funds VDOT uses for emergency road maintenance are based on the previous year's weather. That means this year; they have 400,000 dollars more to spend on plowing and salting. And they're ready to put some of that to use this weekend.

"We don't know exactly what we're looking for as far as what to expect because it's beginning with rain, so it might turn over to ice.  They're expecting there might be some snow, so depending on whatever that is we have crews ready to go as needed," said Jarman.

Those crews will be watching the skies and the roads from VDOT's Smart Traffic Center in Chester.

"This is kind of our eye in the sky and it's going to give us real-time information to know exactly what's going on out there on the roads," she said.

In addition to cameras on the interstates, they'll monitor sensors that measure the temperature of the road surface. They've already mounted plows on many of their trucks. Mountains of sand and salt stand ready for use on the roads. Since no one knows for sure what Saturday's weather will bring, road crews want to be ready for anything.

"This event, we will have to be reactive and respond whenever the snow or whatever begins to fall," Jarman said.

If you have to be on the roads during the rough weather, state police urge you to use caution: slow down, increase your following distance, and keep your headlights on.

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