Fox5: Virginia lawmaker wants answers following audit on I-95 snowstorm gridlock

FOX5, MELANIE ALNWICK

WASHINGTON – A Virginia lawmaker wants to know what is being done to prevent another traffic nightmare like the one that happened in January during a snowstorm that stranded hundreds of motorists along Interstate 95.

FOX 5’s Melanie Alnwick reports that Representative Abigail Spanberger is concerned changes aren’t being made quickly enough. Her concerns come following an audit that was recently released titled, ‘2022 I-95 Snow Incident of January 3-4 Performance Audit.’

The audit was completed by the Office of the State Inspector General and found lessons learned from a similar snow incident were not applied. The OSIG said Virginia has no hazard specific plan for snowfall and that the Commonwealth did not effectively communicate to the public during the gridlock.

According to a state-commissioned report released in April, crashes began to be reported just before 4 a.m. on January 3. Conditions worsened for hours and traffic was bogged down during heavy afternoon congestion. According to the report, snowfall intensified — with as much as three inches an hour falling in the Fredericksburg area south of Washington, D.C.

Snowplows struggled to keep up, the report said, and the queue of traffic continued to build. By 3 a.m. Tuesday, clusters of disabled cars and tractor-trailers were scattered along a 40-mile stretch of I-95 in both directions. Alternate routes were impassable and problems mounted leading to state agencies losing control of the situation, the report said.

Alnwick said Spanberger is asking for a list of steps taken to fix the communications failures and a snow-hazard emergency planning exercise, as recommended in the audit.

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