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SHA: “Nothing is Going to be Normal Until at Least the Weekend”

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This ramp from River Road to I-495 remained impassable this morning. At 1:45 p.m. today, State Highway crews were working to clear it.

UPDATED The Maryland State Highway Administration has hundreds of crews working to clear the roads and interstates in Montgomery County, and, around the state, and the work remains slow going.

“Nothing is going to be normal until at least the weekend,” said SHA spokesperson David Buck.

According to Buck, there are many ramps to I-495 that remain impassable because of the snow.

“Our first priority is getting the interstates back to full capacity,” said Buck.

As people began digging out and venturing out of their neighborhoods, Buck said there have been reports of nearly 20 overturned vehicles on local roads in the last day and a half.

“In every instance, their speed was too fast for the conditions,” said Buck. “Ninety five percent of them were SUVs,” he noted.

During the blizzard, crews were pushing snow out of lanes and sometimes there were obstacles such as abandoned vehicles, which helps explain why you may not see clear straight lanes on some roads.

Now that the historic storm is over, crews have to remove a huge volume of snow and that takes a fleet of vehicles not just one plow.  That’s why, he says, this cleanup is going to be measured in days not hours.

“It took us 36 hours of heavy snow to get into this,” Buck said.

“During the storm, you push, you push,” he said.  “When it is over, it takes huge pieces of equipment to pick up the snow.”

In some cases, crews can blow the snow over guardrails, in other cases, the snow has to be removed and trucked away.

“That’s an extremely slow process,” Buck said.

On Day 3 of this cleanup, SHA crews are working 12-hour shifts.

Since Friday,  Buck said SHA emergency patrol vehicles have responded to 890 separate incidents, involving property damage or disabled vehicles.

“That’s unprecedented,” Buck said.

So what should motorists know before venturing out?

According to Buck, there may be lane drops on local roads and highways. Piles of snow may impede your sight distance and sometimes you will see pedestrians walking in the road.

Motorists should expect to encounter heavy equipment on the road, and they are asked to provide these crews with space and reduced speeds. Remember, speed limits are set for normal road conditions and conditions are not back to normal yet.

Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at sburke@mymcmedia.org or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.

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