Jeffrey Caldwell 804-786-2715
Joan Morris 703-259-1799
March 20, 2008
VDOT COMPLETES INITIAL REVIEW OF SPRINGFIELD ICE STORM
Agency Adopts Aggressive Program to Improve Statewide Emergency Response
Commissioner David S. Ekern delivered the report to the Commonwealth Transportation Board at its March 20 meeting noting a key finding that VDOT must refocus its emergency response mission to prevent similar significant delays from happening again.
“The human impact of a severe weather event or other type of emergency on the economy, quality of life and safety of all Virginians is significant,” said Ekern. “As we review the circumstances that led to the Springfield Interchange closure, the importance of our emergency response mission has become even clearer. We understand that our crews must keep the region’s highways flowing during all weather conditions and emergencies that occur on our roads. It is time we refocus our agency to respond to this important need.”
The event after-action report details key findings about:
- Mobilization of VDOT crews before and during the storm
- Communications improvements needed between emergency response agencies
- Traveler information needs
- Emergency management protocols
- The adoption of industry-leading snow- and ice-removal practices
Commissioner Ekern detailed 16 immediate action steps already implemented in response to the Feb. 12 event to prevent a similar situation from happening again this winter.
These steps include:
Designating a clear chain of command and focusing emergency response activities to the Northern Virginia Traffic Management Center
Improving communications between VDOT, local, regional and state emergency operations centers, and between emergency response agencies
- Better use of technology and equipment to monitor traffic, report on actual pavement conditions and communicate with motorists about hazards they might encounter on Virginia’s highways
- Consolidating snow- and ice-removal operations for the Springfield Interchange to one maintenance facility, and better deployment of VDOT equipment to manage winter weather events in the area
- Clearer chain of command and training procedures to ensure efficient delivery of emergency response services for snow, ice and other incidents in Northern Virginia
VDOT will host a meeting for elected officials and the public to offer feedback on the agency’s Feb. 12 response and this after-action report at 6:30 p.m. on April 22. The meeting will be held at the Waterford at Springfield, 6715 Commerce St., Springfield.
“In the coming weeks and months, we will work with experts in emergency response and with our neighbors in D.C. and Maryland to ensure we understand all of the factors that led to this event,” Ekern said. “We will use this information to strengthen our statewide snow and ice response and to ensure that drivers in every part of the commonwealth receive consistent and dependable response from this agency.”
By April 15, VDOT will define a program to improve VDOT’s emergency response protocols and practices. This will result in better service to Virginia’s drivers and quicker clearance of natural and man-made traffic snarls.
“This incident serves as a clear reminder that our commitment to plan, operate and maintain a safe Virginia transportation system is founded on our ability to keep traffic moving during emergency situations,” Ekern said. “We must recognize that our customers demand safe, efficient access to our highway systems 24/7 and deliver on that expectation.”
To review the interim after-action report for the Feb. 12 storm and to learn more about VDOT’s emergency response activities, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/news/focus_on_emergency_response.asp
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