VDOT briefs board on lessons learned from Frida transportation snarls
VDOT is coordinating with its partners at the Virginia State Police and Virginia Department of Emergency Management to develop a multi-agency after-action review following Winter Storm Frida.
The review should take about six to eight weeks to complete and will address public messaging and communications, the mobilization of resources, coordination among agencies and how to mitigate the challenges that the three agencies will face in future extreme weather events.
“While the after-action review is underway, we are not waiting to implement changes ahead of our next storm, such as improving our messaging to travelers using VDOT’s network of changeable message boards,” VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich said. “The agency’s top priority is and will remain the safety of the traveling public, and our teams are committed to learning from this, then incorporating those lessons into our standard operating procedures.”
Heavy snow in Central Virginia led to a 24-hour-plus traffic closure on a nearly 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 north of Richmond, and approximately 500,000 households experienced a loss of power, many for more than a week after the storm.
Snowfall rates in the Fredericksburg area reached an historic 3 inches per hour. Many commercial vehicles had challenges climbing hills on I-95, disabling large trucks, stopping traffic flow and blocking routes for snowplows and towing vehicles.
With the record snowfall rates, the snow accumulation further disabled vehicles and impeded response efforts. Power outages impacted cell towers and traffic cameras making communications with those conducting response efforts difficult.
With nearly 4,000 VDOT staff members and more than 16,800 contractors, teams across the state worked around-the-clock to clear blockages and reopen roadways.
Extreme challenges were encountered on other major roadways in the Commonwealth, including I-64, I-81, Route 1, Route 3 and Route 301 during this storm.
In addition to impairing Virginia’s roadways, snow, ice and downed trees caused serious service disruptions to Amtrak routes. Amtrak, CSX and Norfolk Southern worked to get trains to the nearest available station while clearing more than 1,200 trees from tracks statewide.
“I want to thank the thousands of VDOT employees and contractors along with the men and women of the Virginia State Police who worked around-the-clock to respond to this statewide weather event,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “We look forward to the final multi-agency after-action review and comprehensive timeline to improve future coordinated response efforts.”