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Last year the Washington DC metropolitan area got buffeted by record-setting snow storms. Car crashes, stranded trucks, motorists forced to abandon their vehicles, all these images are still in our collective memories. Virginia Department of Transportation ("VDOT") officials say lessons they learned in dealing with last year’s record snowfalls have translated into a series of actions to better prepare for this winter.

When snowfall exceeds 18 inches type of equipment normally used in neighborhood subdivisions doesn’t work. So VDOT’s Northern Virginia District now has 2,600 pieces of snow removal equipment at its disposal, adding 600 trucks in Fairfax County alone, according to Joan Morris, a VDOT spokeswoman. Most of the additional contracted help is smaller trucks suitable for neighborhoods, she said. According to news reports,
one of the biggest changes is that those trucks will be deployed to subdivisions sooner. Instead of waiting for the snow to start falling, trucks will be prepositioned near their assigned neighborhoods when the forecast calls for two or more inches of snow.

"In addition to getting streets treated faster, this change also will help prevent one of the major issues that hampered last winter’s snow removal process," said Branco Vlacich, assistant district maintenance administrator for VDOT’s Northern Virginia district. "If we can keep the snow from ever reaching 18 inches, the smaller trucks will be effective for a longer period of time," Vlacich said. The plow drivers also will be equipped with updated snow maps, the documents that depict their assigned routes. During the spring and summer, VDOT worked to update all of its 650 Northern Virginia snow maps, which identify features such as schools, police stations and hospitals, as well as "hot spots" in roadways that become particularly treacherous in winter weather.

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