US drivers in traffic collapse after major storm
Federal authorities have stepped in after snowfall caused congestion on the roads and drivers to eventually be stranded for nearly 24 hours on a highway.
The US Department of Transportation announced in a Tuesday afternoon tweet that the Federal Highway Commission is in contact with Virginia transportation officials, following massive outrage from drivers stranded on the road, including Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) who tweeted that he had been stuck in traffic on Interstate 95 for 19 hours on his way to the Capitol. According to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vice presidential candidate, it is normally a two hour commute for him.
.@USDOTFHWA is in communication with @VADOT and has asked about their unmet needs, estimated time for reopening, and what their plans are for assisting motorists. FHWA will continue to monitor, ready to assist VADOT as they work to resolve this situation.https://t.co/paXZv8c3M3— TransportationGov (@USDOT) January 4, 2022
I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol. My office is in touch with @VaDOT to see how we can help other Virginians in this situation. Please stay safe everyone. pic.twitter.com/Sz1b1hZJZ5— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) January 4, 2022
Delays were the least of some people’s worries as the storm and poor road conditions caused more than 860 crashes, including multiple jack-knifed semi trucks, and over 840 disabled vehicles, Virginia State Police announced. There have been no reported fatalities, but numerous minor injuries. A mix of rain and snow created dangerous conditions overnight and, in turn, massive traffic delays as sections of highway needed to be closed. Police have urged Virgnians to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary.
“The drive is not worth the risk of a crash, getting stuck, injury to you or your passenger or the cost of a repair,” police said in a statement.
Numerous drivers have taken to social media to post images of the massive traffic jams and to vent their frustrations at state officials and the transportation department, with some claiming to have been stuck on the roads for numerous hours, some reporting more than 20.
UPDATE: After 11 hours stuck in our cars, we are finally moving again on I-95.But only northbound. Southbound still completely shut down and the line of backed up cars is MILES long— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) January 4, 2022
People stuck for 12 hrs in 20 degree temperatures is unacceptable. Forecast was as accurate as it gets 12 hrs before it started. If I-95 in Virginia doesn’t have the plow/salt capabilities for 8-14” of snow it should have been preemptively closed. @JoshNBCNewshttps://t.co/5BUItfM5vk— Bill Karins (@BillKarins) January 4, 2022
This is roughly 90 miles of slow or no movement on i95! Some people in their cars now for over 8 hours. pic.twitter.com/yHm9JznLy3— Jim Cantore (@JimCantore) January 4, 2022
Many drivers were stalled in place overnight on major roadways during the first snow of the season for the area and freezing temperatures.
Some snow-struck drivers have been stopped on the Beltway Outer Loop near National Harbor, Route 50 near the South River, I-95 in Stafford County for more than 5 hours. pic.twitter.com/EkYDypBSxs— Dave Dildine (@DildineWTOP) January 3, 2022
Other videos showed people sharing food with one another and finding other ways to pass the hours of idle time stuck on the roads.
This car has been sitting near me since 1am (I-95 closure). Least I could do was offer them a microwaved breakfast pic.twitter.com/ItA3SKR7pc— JC (@jcgachet96) January 4, 2022
Governor Ralph Northam has said hotter temperatures will help road conditions and continuing efforts opening up the interstate.