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Report finds failures in response to January Interstate 95 snowstorm

Drivers look down the roadway as cars and trucks are stranded on sections of Interstate 95 on Tuesday in Carmel Church, Va.
Steve Helber
Drivers look down the roadway as cars and trucks are stranded on sections of Interstate 95 in Carmel Church, Va.

A new audit of the state’s response to the January snowstorm that stranded hundreds of vehicles on Interstate 95 near Fredericksburg found numerous failures.

The report from the State Inspector General’s office was released Friday afternoon.

Among the problems—poor communication with the public, failure to have enough plow operators on contract, and a lack of state-level planning for major snowstorm emergencies. Auditors conceded that changing weather conditions, powers outages and lack of awareness by some drivers contributed to the problems.

Investigators say transportation and emergency planners should have implemented recommendations made after a similar incident on Interstate 81 in 2018.

The new report includes nearly 20 recommendations, most of which are aimed at improved planning. The Department of Emergency Management, Department of Transportation, and State Police have already set deadlines and plans to address the recommendations.

David Seidel is proud to lead the journalists at Radio IQ and WVTF as news director. David joined the newsroom in May 2017 and brings more than 20 years of experience in broadcast journalism in Virginia. Prior to joining Radio IQ David was an assistant news director, assignment manager and producer at WDBJ Television in Roanoke. He also worked as a reporter for WHSV Television in Harrisonburg. David graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington with degrees in journalism and history.