Showing posts with label Va. Blizzard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Va. Blizzard. Show all posts

Friday, February 12, 2010

VDOT Snow-Removal Costs are Climbing

RICHMOND, Va. - A record-setting winter has drained Virginia's snow-removal budget and the state is now dipping into its maintenance fund, which could mean fewer grass trimmings and other maintenance cuts this summer.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has spent its $79 million snow-removal budget and an additional $25 million in a reserve maintenance fund to keep thousands of state trucks and contractors on the road. Those accounts were depleted this month after storms dumped up to 3 feet of snow in some locations.

VDOT spokesman Jeffrey Caldwell said Thursday the department is now tapping its $1.6 billion maintenance fund to continue snow-removal efforts unabated.

"We're not cutting back our operations at all or trying to save money," Caldwell said. "We're just continuing to move forward with full forces."

The department has been focusing on storm-battered northern Virginia and the northern Shenandoah Valley, the hardest hit locations in the latest round of storms. More state trucks and contractors were deployed to the region on Thursday.

With VDOT tapping its maintenance fund, cuts not related to safety issues such as grass cutting and fence repairing could be made in the months ahead, Caldwell said. Safety-related maintenance such as pothole repairs would not be affected.

Virginia has already applied for $50 million in emergency federal assistance to cover storm costs in December. It is just now compiling costs associated with the latest round of storms, and that sum could exceed the $50 million already sought, said Bob Spieldenner of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

"The reality is, we'll get less than that," he added.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance would primarily go to VDOT, which has contracted nearly 4,000 pieces of equipment to help battle the winter storms.

Gov. Bob McDonnell said he spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week about the status of the $50 million and was told the request was "moving along favorably."

Spieldenner said the latest storms' costs include overtime for Virginia State Police, National Guard troops and forestry crews that cleared down trees.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Va. State Agencies Work Together

The Commonwealth continues around the clock response to the recent severe winter weather. The storm dropped up to 30 inches of snow more in some places to parts of northern and western Virginia, and citizens face snow-packed, icy roads and very low temperatures for the next few days. Power companies are reporting nearly 108,000 power outages. Approximately 210 people including several pets have sought shelter in about 20 locations around the state.

"Response efforts continue day and night," said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. "We have been working closely with local governments to assess their needs and get them the staff, equipment and supplies that they need."

VDEM is processing requests from local governments and matching them with appropriate agencies for response. Local governments have asked for large vehicles and humvees so that local rescue and law enforcement personnel can transport emergency patients to hospitals; snow plows to help keep major highways and staging areas clear; and help in removing downed trees that are blocking roads and preventing snow removal and restoration of power lines.

Additional resources are being dispatched to Northern Virginia. More National Guard soldiers are being sent to the area, along with nearly 40 more heavy trucks and other vehicles to assist in snow removal.

Here are a few examples of state agencies working with local governments:

The Virginia Department of Forestry is using chain saws to help the Virginia Department of Transportation with tree removal in Bedford, Fluvanna, Pittsylvania and Shenandoah counties. A VDOF bulldozer also is being used in Bedford County.

The Virginia Department of Social Services is operating a free hotline for people seeking winter weather resources. Citizens can dial 2-1-1 for the locations of open shelters. Operators handled more than 200 calls from midnight Friday-midnight Saturday.

The Virginia National Guard has:
assisted emergency medical services and law enforcement personnel in Greene, Madison, Orange and Albemarle counties with rescuing stranded motorists and transporting families without power to shelters
transported medical crews to patients in Scottsville
assisted in recovering a fire engine stuck in ice in Fluvanna County
assisted Virginia State Police and Augusta County law enforcement in responding to rescue calls involving cars and tractor trailers along Interstate 81 near Staunton
transported health care professionals to medical facilities in Waynesboro

The Virginia Department of Health has posted important cold weather safety information on line at Citizens should guard against health risks brought on by low temperatures, which include overexertion during shoveling snow, hypothermia and frostbite.

The Virginia State Police have investigated more than 1,700 traffic crashes and responded to another 1,700 calls for disabled and stuck vehicles. As drivers ventured out today, VSP responded to more traffic incidents.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is working 24/7 to plow snow from state-maintained roads and in some cases truck it away.

While conditions are improving on interstates and primary roads, motorists are urged to avoid unnecessary travel. Driving is hazardous in many areas, and dropping temperatures this evening will lead to icy conditions.

VDOT employees and contractors are being re-deployed from other parts of the state to Northern Virginia to assist in snow removal.
Residents should be patient while waiting for secondary roads and subdivision streets to be cleared. The record amount of accumulation and the weight of the snow present major challenges in moving it.

Before traveling, call 511 or visit to get up to date road condition information.