Botched commute: First two inches wreak havoc
Commuter vehicles driven without appropriate equipment or skills are scattered like toys tonight, as the first two inches of what could become a two-foot snowfall brought Charlottesville-Albemarle transportation to a near standstill.
There were two vehicles stopped on westbound Route 250 Bypass just west of the McIntire Road exit around 6:15pm, turning the normal commuter artery into a capillary. Meanwhile, on Interstate 64, traffic never got above 30mph, and several drivers–- apparently traumatized by the concept of driving in snow–- were running with their emergency blinkers.
The situation in Albemarle on Dick Woods Road bordered on the ridiculous, as a reporter counted nine vehicles nosed into ditches along a half-mile stretch near Ivy Depot.
Two cars that smashed together head-on on Route 250 west of Morgantown Road stalled traffic and made for a 3 1/2-hour commute from downtown Charlottesville to Crozet for those leaving around 4:30pm. On Ivy Road heading west, speeds at times reached 5mph until grinding to a soul-deadening halt for hours. Route 240 and its uphill trajectory also proved tricky for autos without four- or front-wheel drive, causing further delays.
"It's surprising that the salt is not doing as good a job as it usually does," said City spokesperson Ric Barrick, who reserved blame for the havoc on commuters who waited downtown too long and set out without four-wheel-drive vehicles.
"We'll start plowing when it gets to three inches, so that should start shortly," Barrick said at 7:25pm. "VDOT hasn't started plowing yet either."
Barrick explained that plows require sufficient snow to create a buffer between blade and pavement to avoid injuring the asphalt.
Updated 9:16pm December 18.