Good work on the road prep

Published 9:19 pm Thursday, January 30, 2014

New York might scoff, but local and state authorities in our neck of the woods deserve recognition for their handling of the snow that has now accumulated in our area twice in two weeks.

With a mere 2.6 inches turning Georgia into an apocalypse of cars and trucks frozen and abandoned on freeways, it seems the further south you get, the worse we are at handling a little of the white stuff.

The kudos I’m sending out to the city of Suffolk’s Department of Public Works and the Virginia Department of Transportation, therefore, are tempered with that sense of relativity: for an area not known for much debilitating snow, they did pretty well.


Email newsletter signup

From all reports (I wasn’t around to experience it), last week’s 2 to 4 inches did cause some problems. Wetter conditions left crews unable to effectively pre-treat roads and bridges, meaning many were a little slippery.

It’s likely authorities in another, more northerly jurisdiction might have employed greater resources and experience to overcome the situation more effectively. Elsewhere, schools may have remained open, due to clearer roads and better-acclimated students and officials.

The 10 inches of powdery white snow Suffolk awoke to Wednesday was less of a problem than the previous week’s lighter dusting. On Thursday, looking out their windows at snow-packed local streets, citizens believed the commute would be tricky, to say the least. But by that time, highways and primary roads were plowed and salted. And you can’t expect them to plow every single residential street as a priority.

We’re not safe and sound yet, though. Temperatures were expected to rise to a high of 44 degrees Friday, but would remain sub-zero beforehand. The city believes the freezing temperatures will mean re-icing, and the police department was urging extreme caution, despite primary roads and bridges being passable.

The city says its crews were continuing to look out for re-icing after all primary roads were cleared by 9 p.m. Wednesday. Crews were placed on two 12-hour shifts.

Sixteen weather-related accidents were reported as of Thursday afternoon, including a hit-and-run with a city snowplow (we can assume a car hit the plow then ran, not the other way around).

VDOT said it was to move to clearing state-maintained secondary and subdivision streets after some mopping up on freeways and other major roads.

State and local officials warned motorists to watch for wet areas refreezing, blowing and drifting snow and to slow down.