VDOT preps for winter weather

STEPHENS CITY – State transportation officials say the Department of Transportation district covering the mid and northern Shenandoah Valley district stands ready to tackle any winter weather that hits the region this season.

The district fared better this past winter than it did a year earlier but how much snow and ice falls this time remains unknown. Virginia Department of Transportation officials with the Staunton District spoke to the media on Wednesday about the agency’s preparation for the season.

VDOT spokeswoman Sandy Myers said the agency does receive calls from people complaining that crews have not plowed their roads. VDOT handles snow removal on interstates, primary highways and much of the secondary roads across the district. VDOT does not remove snow from roads in sanitary districts not yet incorporated into the state system. Nor does VDOT plow roads in private neighborhoods where the responsibility for clearing streets remains with the homeowners or property owners association, Myers noted.

Anyone with concerns about snow removal on VDOT-maintained routes can contact the agency year-round at 1-800-367-ROAD.

The Staunton District’s snow removal budget of $15.6 million – slightly higher than last year’s – represents roughly 10 percent of its total allocation for road maintenance. By comparison, the nearby Culpeper District has $14.1 million earmarked for snow removal while the Northern Virginia region has $85 million. The state has more than $210 million set aside for snow removal. Officials said that even if that money runs out, districts can tap into other VDOT sources to cover cost overruns.

The Staunton District has 1,251 pieces of equipment available for snow removal – 242 provided by the state and 1,009 from hired contractors. Workers assess the equipment and test the vehicles and gear in a dry run held in September or October, officials said. Even after those tests the equipment can break down when in use during winter weather events, clearing roads of heavy ice and snow, and being run for 24 hours straight at times, Myers noted.