2013-2014 VDOT Snow Briefing

Earlier this week, VDOT hosted a seminar on snow removal in Virginia. Here are some of the highlights:


VDOTplows.org shows the status of plowing in northern Virginia neighborhoods. Once it snows more than two inches, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William residents can enter their address and a color‐coded map shows whether plowing is underway, completed or not yet started in their neighborhood. **


Equipment: More than 4,000 contracted and 126 VDOT trucks and plows are now available for snow and ice removal in northern Virginia.


Pretreating: Crews will pre‐treat 850 lane miles of trouble spots including:

  • 350 lane miles on interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495—including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange and the Capital Beltway at Route 1—with liquid magnesium chloride.
  • 500 lane miles on major roads, such as the Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50 and 123, are pre‐treated with salt brine.


Staging in subdivisions: Trucks are pre‐positioned in subdivisions when two or more inches of snow is forecasted. Each subdivision has at least one dedicated truck, with the intent of assigning the same driver to that subdivision throughout the winter. In difficult subdivisions there will be more than one truck.


Dedicated fleet for Virginia State Police: During major storms and ice events, VDOT provides a dozen contracted trucks to Virginia State Police. This helps ensure that trucks can quickly assist with specific emergencies and that VDOT crews focus on assigned routes.


Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) pilot program: 100% of VDOT’s snow contractors are equipped with AVL this year. AVL allows VDOT to track where and when streets have been plowed.


How Neighborhoods are Assigned and Plowed


Typically, crews begin plowing in subdivisions when two inches has fallen.


The main thoroughfares in subdivisions are repeatedly plowed during a storm. Once the storm has stopped and those roads are clear, crews work to make residential streets and cul‐de‐sacs “passable.”


A neighborhood street is considered passable when a path is drivable (with caution) for an average passenger vehicle. The road will not be cleared curb‐to‐curb or to bare pavement, and may remain snow‐packed, uneven and rutted, especially following any refreeze. Chemicals are not typically used in subdivisions, but crews will sand hills, curves and intersections as needed to provide traction. For most storms, one snowplow pass, about eight to ten feet wide, is made.


Local roads are divided among about 600 “snow maps” assigned to plow drivers. About 350 of these maps are for Fairfax County alone. Once drivers complete a minimum of one pass on the roads in a map, they report back that the route is complete.


VDOT judges subdivisions complete through processed snow maps, resident call volume, AVL and feedback from VDOT monitors. While VDOT does not remove snow from sidewalks or trails, crews are asked to be mindful of pushing large amounts of snow onto sidewalks, driveways, etc.


Especially in major storms, it is often an unintended consequence of making roads passable. When shoveling driveways, residents should leave the last few feet at the curb until the street is plowed, as the truck will push some snow back. It also helps to shovel to the right facing the road.


To give crews a chance to finish their assigned snow maps, VDOT asks that residents wait a few days after the storm is over before reporting roads as “missed.” Once crews have finished their routes, resident complaints are mapped into a database that feeds lists of locations back to the area headquarters to double‐check and address. It also helps if residents park on the odd‐numbered side of the street to allow plows room to pass.


Information for Drivers and Residents


• See the status of plowing in northern Virginia neighborhoods: http://www.vdotplows.org

• Follow @vadotnova on Twitter, and for real‐time traffic updates, follow @511northernva, use the 511 app or visit http://www.511virginia.org

• Report unplowed roads, hazardous conditions to novainfo@vdot.virginia.gov or 800‐367‐7623

• Get general snow removal information: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp

• Follow VDOT at http://www.facebook.com/VirginiaDOT, on Twitter @VDOT, and visit http://www.VirginiaDOT.org


For further information, please visit the two following sites.





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