Top highway officials from Maryland and Virginia announced plans yesterday to coordinate snow removal and accident response efforts on the Woodrow Wilson and the American Legion bridges.
The plans, to be implemented within a month, were developed partly in response to last month's freakish preseason snowstorm, which caused an all-night traffic jam when abandoned cars and jackknifed tractor-trailers prevented snow-removal equipment from clearing the Wilson Bridge. By sharing information and equipment across state lines, officials hope to avoid a similar situation next time.
New communications equipment will allow plowing supervisors from both states to stay in touch with each other during snow emergencies. Tow trucks will be stationed at the bridges during snow emergencies and during rush hours. Additionally, a pool of tow trucks will be set up that can be called upon to tow abandoned vehicles during snow emergencies, and de-icing chemicals will be stockpiled at the bridges.
The plans were announced jointly by Virginia Transportation Commissioner Ray D. Pethtel and Maryland Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff. In addition, the two highway chiefs announced the choice of a consulting firm to evaluate the need for an eastern or western bypass around the metropolitan area to relieve traffic pressures on the Capital Beltway.
The consultant, Bellomo-McGee Inc., is expected to complete the $1.2 million study in about 18 months.