RICHMOND, Va. – With mandatory evacuation orders issued along the coast ahead of Hurricane Florence, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is working to proactively alleviate travel pressures on affected Virginia roadways. VDOT crews are stabilizing construction sites ahead of the storm and lifting temporary lane closures on major routes, where possible. Traffic monitoring and incident response staffs will be augmented in some areas during the evacuation process, to prepare for increased traffic volumes and, potentially, additional crashes and disabled vehicles.
“We are committed to assisting potentially thousands of additional motorists on Virginia’s roads reach safe destinations,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen C. Brich. “If you are traveling to evacuate or as you make storm preparations, be prepared for heavier traffic than normal. Make sure your vehicle is safe, fueled up, operable and equipped with emergency supplies.”
As local guidance may vary, pay close attention to officials in your regions on evacuation operations. Those traveling in the eastern regions of the commonwealth may encounter ferry service suspensions and suspension of tolls on some facilities.
Ferry service suspension
- Fredericksburg District – Merry Point and Sunnybank ferry services have been suspended until further notice
- Hampton Roads District – the Jamestown-Scotland ferry is currently in service; suspension is possible as the storm approaches
- Hampton Roads District – Hampton Roads Express Lanes tolls have been suspended until further notice.
In addition to easing evacuation travel, VDOT teams continue preparations for storm response, including:
- readying trucks and equipment
- inspecting drainage facilities and clearing them, where necessary
- notifying additional debris/tree removal crews to be on standby once the storm’s effects begin
VDOT continues coordination planning and response efforts with utility companies statewide, federal officials, state partners at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Virginia State Police, and local officials.
- Gather needed items for emergency kits for your home and vehicle. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has tips for what to include to prepare your family, home and pets: https://www.vaemergency.gov/emergency-kit/
- Clear any debris from any drainage facilities on your property to prepare for heavy rains. Learn more about drainage in your neighborhood: http://www.virginiadot.org/info/drainage_on_virginia’s_roads.asp
- Get your vehicle road-ready; it should be safe, operable and fueled up for potentially long travel in the event of an evacuation.
Motorists are encouraged to monitor weather reports and road conditions before traveling and take the following precautions:
- If a traffic signal is out, drivers are advised to treat the intersection as a four way stop.
- Never drive through water flowing across a road. It takes only six to 12 inches of water to float a small vehicle.
- Never drive around barricades. Remember, the road has been closed for your safety.
- Slow down when driving through standing water. Driving too fast through water could cause you to lose control and hydroplane.
- Avoid flood-prone areas, especially along creeks and other low-lying areas. Water in those areas can rise quickly and without warning during heavy rains.
- In the event of a flash flood warning for your area, seek high ground immediately.
- Watch for debris on the roadway. If you encounter a downed power line, do not try to move the line. Downed trees may contain power lines. Contact VDOT or Dominion Virginia Power.
- If involved in a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
- Get the latest road conditions – call 511, go to www.511virginia.org or download the mobile app at the 511 web site.
- Report downed trees, hazardous road conditions or talk to a customer service representative – call VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623).
- Prepare for the storm and find out about other VDOT hurricane preparedness efforts – visit www.VDOT.Virginia.gov.
- Traffic information is also available on Twitter @511statewideVA. For general VDOT information, follow @VaDOT.
- VDOT’s Facebook page will also be updated throughout the storm. https://www.facebook.com/VirginiaDOT.