VDOT increases snow budget

WINDSOR, Va. (WAVY) – Winter is coming, and that’s why VDOT is getting its plan together for snow. VDOT said they’ve worked on their trucks, they’ve checked over their routes, and they’ve increased their budget, after what Virginia experienced last year.

Last winter season brought 14 snow events, averaging $1 million per event, and VDOT only had $4.8 million budgeted for snow. So this year, while VDOT hopes for the best, it’s preparing for the worst. This year’s snow budget has been increased to $6.4 million.

WAVY.com asked how the department made up for the millions in maintenance, materials and equipment spent.

“The key to these events is getting out ahead of them, having people pre-positioned, having the roads treated,” said VDOT District Administrator Jim Utterback. “If we go over budget, then we’ll adjust other maintenance services, how we do it, or some work will be delayed.”

Right now VDOT is working to cover all of their bases fast.

“Our salt is about 14,000 tons, and what that means is we’re at about 82 percent capacity, and by the end of November we’ll be at about 90 percent capacity,” said VDOT District Maintenance Engineer John Jacobs.

VDOT is also experimenting with new safety features for their drivers, things like control lights on top of their cabs may help.

“So when the plows are operating and the snow is blowing hard, they’ll be able to do a spotlight down for better visibility and safety,” Jacobs said.

Most of all, VDOT is working on increasing communication, so every locality has a say in keeping you safe. If you remember, that communication really helped last year during the January 28 storm, which they say was the costliest. VDOT called in resources from Salem, Culpeper, Lynchburg and Staunton to support Virginia Beach. They had over 50 trucks working 24/7 in that city alone.

WAVY.com also learned, VDOT has been using new technology to prepare for the storms this year. New drivers had to take snow plow simulator training with virtual scenarios on TV screens, to help them start the season better prepared for whatever lies ahead.

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