Youngkin working with outside firm to investigate I-95 traffic nightmare caused by January snowstorm

Virginia Gov. Glen Younkin is working with an outside firm to investigate the traffic jam that trapped drivers on Interstate 95 for roughly an entire day during last month’s intense snowstorm.

A spokesperson for Youngkin told WTOP the firm will “conduct a thorough and comprehensive after-action review of the government’s preparation and response” to the Jan. 3 winter storm and consequential traffic.

Former Gov. Ralph Northam’s office requested the investigation and executed the contract for the outside firm, Youngkin’s office said. Arlington-based CNA is conducting the investigation for $79,000.

A report is expected to be completed by March 15, according to the spokesperson and will be made available to the public. In the meantime, the Virginia Department of Transportation is implementing new storm response strategies and bulking up resources to help prevent an incident like that from happening again.

This news comes after Democrat Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger has called for more information about what went wrong leading up to the storm in a letter to Youngkin.

“While Rep. Spanberger’s office has not yet received an official response from Governor Youngkin or his team, she is encouraged that — following her efforts — more information about this process and its timetable is now becoming available to the public,” a spokesperson for Spanberger told WTOP.

Northam was in the final two weeks of his term when the snowstorm hit. It was the D.C. region’s worst snowstorm since 2016, dumping 3 1/2 inches of snow an hour during its peak.

A stretch of the interstate between Stafford County and Thornburg was completely impassable due to heavy, wet and fast-falling snow that iced over as temperatures dropped throughout the course of the storm.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report. 

Julie Gallagher

Julie Gallagher is a freelance digital writer and editor for WTOP.com. She previously covered the 2020 election with CNN and has bylines in The Lily, WIRED, NBC Washington, The Baltimore Sun, Washington City Paper and more.

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