Watch Live: Drivers Stranded for 15+ Hours on I-95 in Virginia After Snowstorm – NBC4 Washington
Drivers have been stuck on Interstate 95 in the Stafford County, Virginia, area for more than 15 hours after multiple trucks crashed amid a major snowstorm that left snow and ice packed onto the road.
Many drivers are out of gas. Some don’t have food or water. Some say they have kids, pets and family members with medical needs in the car.
“We are getting to people as soon as we can. We understand the severity of the situation,” Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Kelly Hannon said.
Chopper4 flew over Interstate 95 on Tuesday morning, where drivers had been stranded for 15 hours or more.
VDOT says a plan is underway to guide trapped vehicles to interchanges and alternate routes. Prince William County firefighters were seen handing out blankets and water bottles Tuesday morning as the traffic nightmare continued.
Gov. Ralph Northam’s office says it is working to open warming centers. Sunlight should help crews clear off roads, but Northam encouraged everyone to avoid I-95.
U.S. Sen. for Virginia Tim Kaine said he was caught in the extreme gridlock.
“I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol,” Kaine said on Twitter. He said his office is in touch with transportation officials.
Driver Anne Gould said traffic stopped on Monday afternoon while she was on her annual trek to Florida. By Tuesday at about 6:20 a.m., Gould said she had only moved ahead in the gridlock by a few car lengths.
“There’s cars and trucks as far as I can see behind me, and in front of me, and it’s looked like this for 12 hours,” she said Tuesday morning.
As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, traffic was at a standstill. The Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed both directions of I-95 are shut down between Ruther Glen, in Caroline County, and Exit 152 in Dumfries, Prince William County. That’s a 48-mile closure through the Fredericksburg area, which recorded 14.1 inches of snow Monday.
“We are working to get traffic moving again as best we can using every available interchange between Prince William & Caroline counties,” VDOT Fredericksburg said. “There are interchanges at the following mm: Exit 104, 110 Caroline, 118, 126 Spotsy, 130 FXBG 133, 136, 140, 143, 148 Stafford, 150 & 152 PW.”
Virginia State Police said the lengthy closure was implemented so crews could safely reach stranded motorists. The agency responded to more than 1,000 crashes since midnight Tuesday, and travel is discouraged, the governor said in a statement.
“This is unprecedented, and we continue to steadily move stopped trucks to make progress toward restoring lanes,” VDOT Fredericksburg District Engineer Marcie Parker said in a statement.
“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.
All southbound lanes of I-95 were shut down at mile marker 136 near Centreport Parkway after a crash involving six tractor-trailers at noon Monday. No one was hurt, but that collision contributed to major backups.
Towing crews, plows and Virginia State Police were helping with the effort, Hannon said. Crews were also trying to move trucks blocking roads.
Hannon said to call 911 if you know someone out there who needs urgent medical attention.
For everyone else, she said she knows this is a dire situation, and they’re working to get people home.
Nisa Semesta, who was stuck on the southbound side for more than 12 hours with two cats in her car, said drivers couldn’t even get off the interstate for supplies. Side roads were also impassable.
“We’re really worried about our access to food, water and sanitation at the moment,” said. “I know some people are starting to get worried about gas.”
Truck driver Emily Clementson suggested people ask truck drivers if they have extra supplies, such as snacks or water bottles. She said many truck drivers prepare in case they get stranded.
Clementson said the conditions changed as soon as she and a co-driver got into Virginia.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Clementson said.