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Northern Virginia snowstorm costs start at $1 million an hour

Plows were going back and forth on Route 7 in Loudoun County, Virginia, near the line with Clarke County, in March 2018. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

WASHINGTON — The initial response to Wednesday’s snow and ice storm is costing the Virginia Department of Transportation $1 million an hour in Northern Virginia alone.

“Looking at this storm and the mobilization that we have — in Northern Virginia alone, 3,000 pieces of equipment, it’s going to be about $1 million an hour that we are going to spend in snowfall,” VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich said Tuesday.

VDOT is responsible for nearly all public roads in Northern Virginia, except local roads in cities and towns and streets in Arlington County.

Any additional winter spending could push the state beyond its planned highway maintenance and operations budget for the year that ends June 30, forcing cuts to other planned work.

“Going into this storm, we have about $55 million left out of the original budget,” Brich told the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

“We’re prepared to tackle the storm and reopen the roads as soon as possible, but we will look to demobilize as soon as possible just to be able to save the money, but the movement of goods and services are going to be the paramount issue,” he added.

Some of the areas hit by flooding and tropical storms have yet to have repairs completed.

In this storm, Deputy Commissioner Rob Cary said there are many crews in position besides just plow drivers.

“We have tree crews ready as well anticipating ice and the potential for tree limbs down and utility lines down … we also are coordinating with the utility companies,” Cary said.

Power outages are possible.

“The last thing I would say is: 28 days ’til spring,” Cary said.

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