Crews across the D.C. region have been treating roads with brine in preparation for winter weather that’s expected to come late Wednesday night.
There could be ice accumulation, especially north and west of the District, and commuters were encouraged to delay travel during the Thursday morning commute.
“This is worse than snow,” said Ellen Kamilakis, a spokeswoman with the Virginia Department of Transportation. “There is no strategy to driving on ice. This is dangerous.”
Virginia crews started coating roads with brine Tuesday evening, getting ready for the storm.
“It’s going to buy us a little bit of time to prevent ice from bonding to the pavement before the trucks can get out there with the rock salt,” said Kamilakis. “Once the precipitation starts, they will be going around and treating with salt.”
Crews with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the D.C. Department of Transportation were treating roads with brine as well, but the thought of icy roads in Virginia in particular brought back memories from January, when hundreds of drivers were trapped in icy conditions on Interstate 95 in the Stafford County area.
Vehicles were at a standstill, some for 24 hours. Drivers shut off their engines in frigid weather to conserve dwindling fuel; many of them had little to no food or water.
“We definitely want to avoid what happened last year,” Kamilakis said.
The state has since made a number of changes, including implementing a new system that allows VDOT to communicate directly with drivers who are stranded in bad weather.
“They will get a message sent to their phones that will be geofenced,” Kamilakis said. “They will be able to text back and forth with somebody at VDOT to get specific updates.”
Kamilakis said there has been “increased coordination with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Virginia State Police.”
A report released in August by Virginia’s inspector general revealed glaring missteps by state agencies during the incident.