Maryland and Virginia crews pre-treating local roads before snow

WASHINGTON – A snow storm is set to bear down on the Mid-Atlantic region beginning Sunday night. But before the snow falls, crews are out in full force to pre-treat the roads.

The D.C. area is expected to get up to three inches of snow in some areas, and possibly three to six inches for outlying areas under a winter storm warning. This could impact Monday’s morning and afternoon commutes.

Temperatures will fall in the afternoon and conditions are expected to deteriorate, potentially causing the winter weather to affect Tuesday morning’s rush hour as well.

Jenni McCord of the Virginia Department of Transportation says their crews are preparing for the worst: “We’re expecting 36 hours of winter weather.”

More than 900 VDOT trucks will pre-treat 850 miles of northern Virginia highways, ramps and bridges starting on Sunday. Liquid magnesium chloride will be used on major interstates like I-66, I-95 and the Capital Beltway.

Major roads like the Fairfax County Parkway and Route 29 will be treated with salt brine. Additional trucks will be deployed Monday. McCord says if there is no precipitation, the pre-treatment can last for days, but once it starts snowing or raining, the solution is only effective for 45 minutes to an hour.

Charlie Gischlar with the Maryland State Highway Administration urges drivers to stay off the roads to allow the plows to do their jobs.

“We don’t want our crews stuck in the same traffic as everybody else,” Gischlar says. “If you could delay a commute, telecommute or use mass transit – that keeps us unencumbered to be able to effectively and efficiently treat the highways.”

Gischlar says they have more than 2,000 pieces of equipment on hand to salt and plow the roads.

“The salt that comes out of the back of the dump truck is sprayed with a salt brine, which reduces that bounce and scatter effect,” Gischlar says. “Then the solution is allowed to dry on the roads. That prevents the initial bonding of snow and ice from occurring.”

If you do have to drive, Gischlar warns there will be slippery spots.

“If it looks wet, assume it’s frozen.”

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