Lauren Hansen 757-925-1660
Cell (757) 374-9809
Sept. 4, 2008
TROPICAL STORM - VDOT FACT SHEET
Public information sources
- State preparedness efforts: http://www.vaemergency.com
- Citizen preparedness information: www.ReadyVirginia.gov
- Road condition information: www.511Virginia.org includes interstate and primary roads managed by VDOT
- 511 or VDOT's TrafficLine at (757) 361-3016 - Road condition information via telephone
What are VDOT’s responsibilities during a hurricane?
VDOT’s key role is to maintain traveler safety and open roads as quickly and safely as possible. Other responsibilities include:
- Setting up traffic control and detours
- Removing debris and branches from roadways and coordinating clean-up with other entities - such as power companies
- Making emergency repairs to damaged roads and bridges
- Assessing damages and providing emergency engineering services
- Coordinating long-term recovery to restore transportation infrastructure
- Providing emergency plans and procedures
- Providing back-up communications to support emergency response and recovery operations
- Communicating road condition information to the public through the Transportation Emergency Operations Center and Public Affairs
What is VDOT’s role during an evacuation?
- As of today, there have been no recommendations to evacuate residents of Hampton Roads.
- Local officials may decide to evacuate low-lying areas or people in manufactured homes.
- Local officials will alert people if evacuation is necessary. In the event of an evacuation, VDOT would assist with traffic control.
Will bridges and tunnels in the Hampton Roads region close due to high winds?
- Consideration would be given to close a major bridge if tropical-force winds exceeded 45-miles-per-hour or forecasts of excessive tides.
- Usually with high winds, VDOT alerts motorists of high wind conditions on electronic message signs that are located near certain major bridges.
- Generally during hurricanes, VDOT does not close bridges, ramps or roads unless there is eminent danger to public safety such as high water, pavement or structural damage, or downed trees and other debris that block roads.
- VDOT works closely with law enforcement on road closures, road safety and traffic control.
- There are two different thresholds that will trigger tunnel closures in the Hampton Roads region.
- On the Midtown Tunnel, a closure decision will be based upon the onset of tropical-force winds (39 miles per hour) when a hurricane is tracking toward Virginia and conditions are expected to get worse.
- For the Monitor Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel, the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, the Downtown Tunnel, James River Bridge, the Coleman Bridge and the High Rise Bridge, closure decisions will be based on the onset of 45 mile per hour winds when a storm is heading toward Virginia and conditions are predicted to get worse.
- Closure timing will be based on winds, storm surge, rain bands and actual conditions at the facility. Each facility manager will monitor the conditions at their facility and make the final decision about closing.
How does VDOT prepare for hurricanes and possible evacuations?
- It is a year-round effort that involves training and drills.
- VDOT has standard operating procedures for hurricanes so that employees involved know their roles, have been trained and have practiced their roles during drills. Employees also have plenty of field experience from past hurricanes.
- Storm preparation also involves getting manpower and resources together well before a storm hits.
- Crewmembers are standing by to work around the clock with the necessary equipment such as trucks, chainsaws, signs, traffic control devices and construction equipment to repair damaged roads and bridges.
Who are the first responders?
- VDOT employees plus contractors are ready to go should the hurricane have statewide impact.
- The Virginia State Police and the Virginia National Guard may also be deployed.
What are Tiger Teams?
- A group of VDOT teams that are deployed to distressed areas that need immediate assistance with road repairs, clean-up and other tasks related to roadway safety.
- Tiger Team is a military term. The teams attack a job until it is finished.
- Tiger Teams travel from other areas of the state to assist those VDOT crews based in regions struck by a hurricane or other disaster.
- Teams would help with debris removal, signal repair, sign restoration and bridge damage will be called on first. Additional teams may be called on to handle project management, damage assessment and traffic control.
- The teams are fully equipped. The team that specializes in signal repair, for example, will bring light poles and other equipment necessary to fix signals.
What should motorists watch out for?
- Downed trees and power lines
- Damaged signs
- Flood-prone areas and standing water
- Do not drive over a flooded road
- Its depth is not obvious and the roadbed may have washed out.
- Rapidly rising water may engulf your car and could sweep it away.
- Two feet of water will carry away most automobiles.
- Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are automobile-based.
- Best advice - stay off the roads when the hurricane hits
Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.