Snow preparation already underway in Northern Virginia

a snow plow
The Virginia Department of Transportation is gearing up for winter weather. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

When snow hits the D.C. region, it slows everyone down in a big way.

That’s why the Virginia Department of Transportation is preparing now to deal with winter weather when it eventually does come to Northern Virginia this season.

“Our population up here is over 2 million,” said Lauren Mollerup, maintenance engineer for VDOT’s Northern Virginia District.

Mollerup’s district handles more than 14,000 lane miles in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

“That’s like four trips to California and back. That’s a lot of roadway that we have to plow.”

Crews are already gearing up with 250,000 gallons of brine, 120,000 tons of salt and 25,000 tons of sand.

VDOT is getting 3,500 pieces of equipment ready in Northern Virginia for winter weather, when it eventually hits this season. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

“Our snow removal budget is about $53.4 million,” Mollerup said.

Depending on the storm, the department may perform a partial or full anti-icing treatment of bridges, overpasses, elevated surfaces and primary and secondary roads.

That treatment is most effective when pavement temperatures are above 20 degrees and the weather does not begin as rain.

“We do not go into subdivisions and brine subdivisions,” Mollerup noted.

After a storm that drops 2 to 4 inches of snow, the goal for crews is to get the snow cleared within 24 hours.

But that time frame widens as more snow falls.

Crews hope to get roads cleared 48 hours after a storm that drops 4 to 6 inches of snow and 72 hours if more than 6 inches falls.

Trucks deploy 12 to 18 hours before a smaller storm and 18 to 24 hours before a large storm.

“We’re contracting about 3,500 pieces of equipment,” said Mollerup. “We’ve got a lot of equipment that we are inspecting and bringing on board right now.”

Mollerup encouraged homeowners in neighborhoods to park in driveways or on just one side of the street after a snow storm.

Residents are urged to wait to shovel driveways until plows come through since plows will push some snow back.

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