The Maryland State Highway Administration issued the following news release just after 11 a.m. Thursday:
In the aftermath of the winter storm, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) remain fully deployed and continue storm clean up operations.
“One hundred percent of SHA’s personnel and equipment have been out since before the storm hit Wednesday afternoon. While there have been dramatic improvements in the last several hours, motorists need to know that hazards still linger,” said SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen. “Crews are clearing roads and encountering abandoned vehicles as they work, which is impeding plowing operations. Also present along ramps and travel lanes is hard packed snow, which can be particularly slick and a hazard for drivers traveling too fast for conditions.”
SHA crews made substantial progress overnight. Once the snow stopped at midnight, during a five hour period, crews were able to open major State roads for the morning rush hour. SHA continues to plow and treat area roadways that are still snow/slush/ice covered. Many of the roads are down to wet, bare pavement.
Wednesday’s storm presented several challenges to SHA and motorists alike. At its height, the storm dumped up to two inches of snow an hour reducing visibility and creating slick driving conditions. This coincided with the afternoon peak commuting period. The combination of severe weather, heavy traffic, and abandoned/disabled vehicles created a perfect storm scenario and resulted in back ups that also trapped SHA crews. In some cases crews were diverted from plowing operations to assist drivers of passenger vehicles and tractor trailers.
Drawing on experiences from last winter’s storms the SHA mobilized and extensively used heavy duty tow trucks to assist with clearing disabled tractor trailers and other heavy trucks. Yesterday evening and throughout the early morning, disabled vehicles blocked and closed roadways for extended periods of time. The areas most impacted include:
- I-695 between Reisterstown Road and Loch Raven Boulevard and I-83 between Padonia and Ruxton roads (creating residual delays and closures along I-83 in Baltimore City (JFX)). SHA worked together with Maryland State Police to tow a total of 46 disabled passenger vehicles and seven tractor trailers.
- Nine disabled vehicles were removed from I-83 between I-695 and Ruxton Road
- I-95/I-495 north of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge where 17 tractor trailers were disabled and removed from the travel lanes.
- I-95/I-495 at the American Legion Bridge was closed as a result of a total of four jack-knifed tractor trailers between approximately 7 – 11 p.m.
- Eastbound and westbound I-70 at Braddock Mountain west of Frederick, where dozens of tractor trailers were stuck and caused a major back up. Most significant impacts were along Westbound I-70, where the road was closed at US 40 to free tractor trailers by backing them down the grade of Braddock Mountain one by one.
- EB I-70 near MD 27 was closed between approximately 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. and WB I-70 at
- MD 27 and MD 94 closed between approximately 5 pm. and 2 a.m. This incident involved dozens of disabled tractor trailers, which subsequently trapped passenger vehicles.
Abandoned vehicles continue to be a problem statewide. Disruption in power is responsible for traffic signal outages throughout Maryland; these outages are most concentrated in Montgomery County.
Remember to buckle up, “Take it Slow on Ice and Snow” and log onto www.roads.maryland.gov and click the CHART icon for the latest road conditions, live traffic cameras and a variety of traffic and weather information. Citizens can also follow SHA on twitter @MDSHA. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is active and monitoring the storm from Camp Fretterd in Reisterstown.
For tips on preparing for winter storms, residents can visit www.mema.state.md.us, click on the “Be Prepared” button on the left side of the screen and click on the “Winter Storms” link. There also are tips for general preparedness that are helpful for any type of emergency.
For information on towed vehicles motorists should contact the Maryland State Police barracks or local police closest to where their vehicle was abandoned.