‘This is unprecedented’: Hundreds of drivers stranded overnight on US motorway as heavy snow prompts chaos
Hundreds of motorists were left stranded in the snow overnight on a 50-mile stretch of motorway in the US after a crash involving six tractor-trailers. The motorists stuck on Interstate 95 in Virginia faced freezing temperatures and between seven to 11 inches of snow. Both directions of the major highway were brought to a standstill on Monday between Ruther Glen and exit 152 in Dumfries, Prince William County, according to the Virginia Department of Transport.
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Aerial images show traffic jams stretching for miles in the US caused by heavy snow.
Governor Ralph Northam said his team responded throughout the night alongside state police, transportation and emergency management officials.
“An emergency message is going to all stranded drivers connecting them to support, and the state is working with localities to open warming shelters as needed. While sunlight is expected to help @VaDOT clear the road, all Virginians should continue to avoid 1-95,” he added.
Crews worked to remove trucks, plough snow, de-ice the roadway and guide motorists to their nearest exits along the US east coast’s main north-south highway, the transportation agency added. “We know many travelers have been stuck on Interstate 95 in our region for extraordinary periods of time over the past 24 hours, in some cases since Monday morning,” Marcie Parker, the agency’s Fredericksburg District engineer, told the Associated Press.
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“This is unprecedented, and we continue to steadily move stopped trucks to make progress toward restoring lanes. 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.”
Six tractor-trailers collided on Monday afternoon, causing no injuries but bringing traffic to a standstill as the snow accumulated.
Image: A truck tries to make its way along a snow-covered Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge. Pic: AP
Hundreds of motorists were left stranded, with some posting messages on social media warning they were running out of fuel, food and water.
Between 7 and 11 inches of snow accumulated in the area during Monday’s blizzard, according to the National Weather Service. Thousands of accidents and stranded vehicles were reported throughout central and northern Virginia, with state police saying troopers had responded to more than 2,000 calls for service due to treacherous road conditions by 3.30pm on Monday.
Image: Stuck motorists faced freezing temperatures and between seven to 11 inches of snow. Pic: AP
The transport agency said reinforcements were arriving from other states to help get stranded drivers moving again.
“We wish we had a timetable, ETA or an educated guess on when travel will resume on I-95. It’s at a standstill in our area with multiple incidents,” the agency tweeted. “Its frustrating & scary.
Please know our crews don’t stop.
Crews will work 24/7 until ALL state-maintained roads are safe for travel.”
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