NORFOLK, Va. - About 250 people with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in Hampton Roads took action to keep roads clear and address other issues as Monday’s winter storm came down across the area.
Their main priority Monday afternoon was clearing and treating roads. They told News 3 they’ll continue working overnight to help folks stay safe during their morning commute.
“We’ll be out all night monitoring the roadways [and] checking for spots,” Bill Collier, District Maintenance Manager for VDOT’s Hampton Roads District, told News 3.
Collier oversees all emergency response operations within the district, including winter weather that took place Monday.
He told News 3 crews had been preparing since late last week for winter weather that hit across Hampton Roads.
Their priority, Collier said, is keeping wet pavement from freezing overnight for morning commuters.
“For today’s storm, it was mostly salt,” he said. “We did have help from temperatures, pavement temperatures, being warm and melting some of the snow as it fell, we really didn’t have a lot of accumulation on the roadway to plow.”
“The salt basically helps lower a freezing temperature of a saltwater mix,” Collier added. “We’re basically turning wet pavement and putting a little bit of salt on the road to keep that moisture on the road more of a saltwater, rather than just plain rainwater.”
Monday, some of the busiest areas for VDOT’s Hampton Roads district during the winter storm included Williamsburg, James City County and the Eastern Shore.
While the snowfall may have ended, crews will continue working overnight into Tuesday morning.
“We want to check those ramps, making sure we don’t have any piles of snow that might be melting and bleeding over to the curbs of the ramps, or something that might cause issues,” Collier said.
Overall, Collier said it's important to give crews time and space to clear and treat roads, and to know what to do when you're on the road, especially when it comes to black ice.
“You have to be ready for changing conditions,” he said. “One area may be dry, and you may be able to safely drive the speed limit. The next minute, you’re in an area that maybe gets a little bit less sun, or for whatever reason, has a little bit more moisture in the roadway, and that area freezes. You have to be ready to respond quickly.”
Collier said, when it comes to black ice, do not panic and slam on your brakes. Ease off the gas and brake lightly.
He added it’s important to be cautious if you must hit the road Tuesday morning, especially if you have to drive across the state, with other areas being hit with heavier amounts of snow as compared to Hampton Roads.