Trees, traffic barrels, garbage cans create headaches on roads

LEESBURG, Va. — Traffic crews have been monitoring and closing roads that have been rendered impassible by downed trees, blown traffic barrels and garbage cans whipped into the street by the strong winds.

“Trees falling on power lines and telephone lines, garbage cans, smaller ground-mounted signs, and even overhead signs are susceptible,” said Ellen Kamilakis of Virginia Department of Transportation.

Road crews, utilities and private citizens have all done their part to keep traffic flowing.

“Our primary goal is to keep everything moving,” Kamilakis said.

In some cases the road blockage can be handled quickly.

“Depending on the size of the tree, it may be something a VDOT crew of two with a dump truck and a couple of chainsaws can haul it away,” Kamilakis said. “But if it’s a much larger tree, you need heavy equipment, and that’s the transport time to get those there.”

Some traffic can usually resume before the entire tree is cut and carted away.

“If we can get a lane open on a road and do a flagging operation, the intent is to keep traffic moving as much as we can,” she said.

The damage from downed trees isn’t just limited to blocked roadways.

In Leesburg, Virginia, an old tree was knocked down by the wind at the intersection of Queen Street Northeast and Edwards Ferry Road. That led to crews from Dominion Energy working to replace the power while a hazardous materials contractor had to clean up oil from the fallen generator.

By midmorning, two wooden replacement poles arrived and were installed, as the wind continued to rock nearby cars.

Even good Samaritans were tested by Mother Nature.

One woman who stopped traffic to move a blown a garbage pail out of the road started driving only to have the same pail blown right back in front of her car in the street.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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