Home  |  About Barbara  |  Issues  |  Blog  |  On The Trail  |  Contact Us  | 

VDOT Snow Removal Procedures
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

VDOT Snow Removal Procedures
With winter weather upon us, it is once again time to prepare for snow and ice storms.  The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) provided us with additional guidance to share with you. VDOT is responsible for clearing snow and ice on all state roads, which are marked by black and white route number signs. In Northern Virginia, there are more than 17,000 lane miles to clear when we have a storm. This year VDOT has a statewide snow-removal budget of $115 million, of which $33 million has been allocated to Northern Virginia.



In the months since last year’s historic snowstorms, VDOT has updated each of its 650 snow maps for Northern Virginia, added 600 contractor trucks to its fleet, provided additional snowplow stimulator training, and initiated an Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) pilot program.  The AVL program will allow VDOT to track which areas a truck has covered and how long it took the truck to cover an area, as well as locate a truck to aide in an emergency response.  Already, nearly 400 trucks have had the AVL system installed.


When snow or ice is forecast, VDOT will deploy trucks loaded with salt and sand to staging areas where they are assigned routes. Crews will pre-treat about 300 lane miles of trouble spots on Interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495 – including bridges and ramps prone to freezing – with liquid magnesium chloride.  Another 200 lane miles on major roads, such as Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50, and 123, are pre-treated with salt brine.


VDOT Road Priorities are as follows:

  • Interstates (I-66, I-95/395, I-495)
  • High-Volume Routes (Routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50, Fairfax County Parkway)
  • Main thoroughfares in neighborhoods or developments
  • Residential Streets
  • Cul-de-sacs



Once 2 inches of snow has accumulated on the roads, crews can begin plowing.  Please note that it is VDOT policy to start plowing once 2 inches have accumulated.  This year, trucks will be pre-positioned in subdivisions whenever a forecast calls for 2 or more inches.  In the past, trucks have not deployed until after 2 inches had accumulated.


The main thoroughfares in subdivisions are repeatedly plowed during a storm.  Once the storm has stopped and these roads are clear, crews will work to make residential streets and cul-de-sacs “passable.”  A neighborhood street is considered passable when a path is drivable, with caution, for an average passenger vehicle.  The road will not be cleared curb-to-curb or to bare pavement, and it may remain snow-packed, uneven and rutted, especially following any refreeze.  Chemicals are not typically used in subdivisions, but crews will sand hills, curves, and intersections as needed to provide traction.  For most storms, one snowplow pass, about 8-10 feet wide, is made.


VDOT Guidance:

  • Stay off the roads, let the plows clear the snow, and be patient
  • VDOT does not remove snow from sidewalks (there has been additional training for all plow drivers to not shovel onto fire hydrants, side walks, driveways, etc)
  • For an average 6 inch storm, VDOT’s goal is to make 1 pass of all roads within 48 hours of the end of the storm
  • VDOT tries not to deploy trucks during rush-hour
  • Do not clear the last couple feet of your driveway until a plow has been through
  • When shoveling your driveway, shovel the snow to the right as you face the road
  • Avoid parking on the street, but if you have to park on the street, please park on the odd numbered side of the street to leave more room for trucks to drive through

Winter Weather Driving Tips:


  • Look up the current road conditions before beginning your trip – call 511 or visit www.511virginia.org
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter
  • Keep your car’s windows, roofs, mirrors and lights clear of snow and ice
  • Always wear your seatbelt
  • Allow plenty of extra time to reach your destination
  • Start out slowly
  • Be aware of potentially icy areas, such as shady spots and bridges
  • Keep a safe distance of at least 5 seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road
  • Do NOT pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary – treat these as you would emergency   response vehicles
  • Keep an emergency winter driving kit in your car



During and after a storm, if you have a safety concern regarding a specific roadway or situation, please feel free to report it to our office or directly to VDOT:


My Office:

[email protected]


In the event of a winter storm, I intend post updates as I receive them on my website, www.delegatecomstock.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.  I would also like to invite you to keep in touch and to send me information throughout a storm.



[email protected]

1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623)

Additional VDOT Resources:

  • www.511virginia.org - Provides real-time updates on traffic incidents and road conditions
  • Twitter – Follow VaDOT and 511northernva for news and information on VDOT projects and programs around the state and updates on traffic incidents and road conditions
  • www.facebook.com/virginiadot - learn about VDOT news and programs
  • www.youtube.com/vdotweb - view videos on snow removal and several other topics

Paid for by Friends of Barbara Comstock.