An accident involving six tractor-trailers on Interstate 95 left hundreds of drivers snowed in overnight along a 50-mile stretch of highway in Virginia, as the crashed vehicles blocked the road and blizzard conditions prevented crews from reaching the area.
What are the details?
ABC News reported that both directions of traffic had come to a halt between Ruther Glen in Caroline County and Dumfries in Prince William County on Monday. The outlet added that the standstill persisted through the night as the area was hit with heavy snowfall and temperatures dropped below freezing.
The Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed on Twitter that the standstill traffic situation was the result of "multiple disabled tractor-trailers" blocking the road. The department reported that crews were working diligently Tuesday morning to clear the road but continued to advise drivers to avoid I-95. No injuries were reported as a result of the crash.
Drivers stuck on I-95 traffic backup in Virginia for hourswww.youtube.com
In a statement, Marcie Parker, the agency’s Fredericksburg District engineer, said that crews were moving trucks, plowing snow, and treating ice along the jam-packed stretch of highway.
“We know many travelers have been stuck on Interstate 95 in our region for extraordinary periods of time over the past 24 hours, in some cases since Monday morning. This is unprecedented, and we continue to steadily move stopped trucks to make progress toward restoring lanes. In addition to clearing the trucks, we are treating for snow and several inches of ice that has accumulated around them to ensure that when the lanes reopen, motorists can safely proceed to their destination,” Parker said, according to ABC News.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) added that his team was also involved in the efforts, aiding local emergency personnel to resolve the crisis.
"My team has been working throughout the night alongside @VSPPIO, @VaDOT, and @VDEM to respond to the situation on I-95," Northam tweeted Tuesday morning. "State and local emergency personnel are continuing to clear downed trees, assist disabled vehicles, and re-route drivers."
The traffic standstill came after a blizzard rocked central and northern Virginia on Monday. According to the National Weather Service, the area was covered with seven to 11 inches of snowfall.
The poor weather conditions made the situation that much worse for stranded drivers, many of whom got trapped on the highway without food, water, or warm clothing.
"I’ve got 3 kids [and] we have been stuck since yesterday. Freezing nights and I have a baby on board. No food and no hope please help us letting the authorities know,” one stranded driver reportedly told WTOP-TV.
Another person said the traffic emergency might prevent them from getting home to take their ill father to an essential surgery appointment, while another said they might miss their father's funeral.
“We need help, been out here for 18 hours and no help. This is ridiculous, please use your voice to get us help,” one driver added in an email to the news outlet. Another said, “Haven’t moved since 3 pm ... it’s 16 degrees. This is insane.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), too, got stuck in the traffic while en route to Washington, D.C.
In a tweet Monday night, the Virginia Department of Transportation warned that there was no timetable for when travel will resume.
"We wish we had a timetable, ETA, or an educated guess on when travel will resume on I-95. It's at a standstill in our area with multiple incidents. It's frustrating & scary. Please know our crews don't stop. Crews will work 24/7 until ALL state-maintained roads are safe for travel," the Fredericksburg department said.
Officials are asking anyone stranded with a medical emergency to call 911 for help.