Friday, February 22, 2008

Virginia transportation officials said yesterday they deployed a special fleet of trucks to the Mixing Bowl in Springfield in preparation for an overnight ice storm and to prevent problems that occurred during a similar storm last week.

Mike Salmon, spokesman for the Virginia’s Department of Transportation, said the agency upgraded it snow-emergency plan after the Feb. 12 ice storm that caused accidents and stranded motorists for several hours on icy ramps of the Mixing Bowl in Springfield — where Interstates 495, 395 and 95 meet.

“We’re starting with interstates and primary roads, and we have a fleet of trucks especially geared toward the Springfield Interchange that includes 15 salt trucks and four magnesium-chloride tankers,” Mr. Salmon said.

Brian Greening, an Oakton resident stuck on Interstate 66 during the storm last week, said he is worried about a repeat. Mr. Greening said he saw a VDOT employee parked with a pillow in the Bailey’s Crossroads area.

“Hopefully he will wake up in time,” said Mr. Greening, 31.

The agency also planned to deploy 741 trucks last night and this morning throughout Northern Virginia.

The winter storm is expected to bring several inches of snow to the region, then glaze streets with freezing rain that could result in dangerous commutes through this evening.

The National Weather Service predicts one to two inches of snow, which will begin to fall at about midnight, then about a fourth of an inch of ice. The storm will arrive from the Southwest and collide with freezing temperatures in the area. As a result, the agency has issued a winter storm warning for much of the region until 10 tonight.

Other area crews also prepared yesterday for the storm.

Karyn LeBlanc, a D.C. Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said the city snow team — led by the agency and assisted by the Department of Public Works — will be salting bridges, main streets and residential areas. She said the team got ahead of the storm last week and has a similar strategy planned for this one.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty met with DDOT and DPW directors to discuss snow operations, and said the snow team will act according to the severity of the storm, Miss LeBlanc said. About 200 pieces of equipment will be deployed in the District throughout the storm.

Esther Bowring, a spokesperson for Montgomery County, said the Department of Public Works and Transportation mobilized all 175 pieces of winter-weather equipment yesterday. Road crews who sleep at their depots during possible winter storms are ready to salt and sand more and plow less if ice thickens, she said.

The northern section of the region is expected to get the most snow while the District and surrounding area will get mostly ice and sleet. The storm is expected is expected to continue into New England with a mix of snow and sleet.

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