by Harry Wilmerding –
Virginia officials responded to a massive traffic jam triggered by a severe winter storm, icy roads and a tractor-trailer accident.
“We all need to be clear that this was an incredibly unusual event,” Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said at a news conference, the Associated Press reported, adding that he understands drivers’ “frustration and fear.”
Traffic problems began Monday after a crash on I-95 caused a massive buildup of cars, the AP reported. Problems continued as snow dumped at a rate of around two inches per hour.
“That was entirely too much for us to keep up with,” Marcie Parker, a Virginia Department of Transportation engineer, told reporters, according to the AP. “Consequently, with the amount of traffic that we had on the interstate, the trucks and the cars couldn’t make it up and down the hills because we had too much snow and ice out there.”
North and southbound traffic on I-95 came to a standstill on Monday between Ruther Glen, Virginia, in Caroline County and exit 152, in Dumfries, Virginia, in Prince William County. Up to 11 inches of snow fell in the area during Monday’s storm, and travelers were advised to avoid driving, the AP reported.
Northam defended his decision not to activate the Virginia National Gaurd or declare a state of emergency, citing the difficulty of getting workers and equipment through the icy roads to help travelers, according to the AP.
Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine was stuck in the traffic jam for over 27 hours while traveling to Washington, D.C., from his home near Richmond.
“I’m now 27 hours into my journey,” Kaine told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “I still have probably at least an hour and a half until I get to the Capitol. I left Richmond yesterday at 1:00, I live in Richmond … I’m working on voting issues and the meeting was at 8:00 and I wanted to do it in-person. It’s turned into what will end up being a 27 or 28 hour ordeal, unlike anything I have ever seen.”
Virginia Department of Transportation officials reopened the interstate around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, the AP reported.
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