Icy Roads Leave Drivers Steamed

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Early in the 20th century, the White Star Line created an enormous people-moving machine for transatlantic service. Early in the 21st century, the Virginia Department of Transportation created an enormous people-moving machine for the Washington metropolis.

Both ran into trouble with ice.

Unlike the Titanic, the Springfield Mixing Bowl can be salvaged. VDOT can fix its new machine. What thousands of travelers endured Tuesday on that frozen complex of highways, ramps and bridges must never happen again.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My wife picked up slugs at the Pentagon at 3:45 p.m. [Tuesday]; at about 4 p.m., she called me to tell me she had come to a stop past Edsall Road in the HOV lanes. She remained stopped until approximately 7:40 p.m., even though the main lanes were opened to traffic much earlier. Fortunately for her, she had a full tank of gas and an empty bladder and had voted in the morning.

Based on my wife's phone call, I took the George Washington Parkway through Alexandria, leaving my office in Ballston at 4:30 and reaching the polling place at 6:55 p.m., just in time to vote.

The people in charge failed to: 1) take notice of the forecast and take preventive action by de-icing the roadways, especially the bridges and overpasses, and 2) react properly once the crisis was upon them.

Dave Wolf

Lake Ridge

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Why were the electronic billboards dark for the hours that people waited, stuck, on I-95?

I regularly commute between North Carolina and Northern Virginia. On almost every trip this past summer, the electronic billboards reported accidents or congestion ahead.

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