Stranded for hours, drivers sleep on I-95 due to wintry weather

Stranded for hours, drivers prepare to sleep on I-95 due to wintery weather
Posted at 11:47 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 09:55:47-05

FREDRICKSBURG, Va. -- Drivers have been stuck in their vehicles on Interstate 95 in Fredericksburg for over 12 hours due to traffic problems caused by winter weather on Monday — some even having to spend the night in their cars without food, water or stable heat in freezing temperatures.

Around 8:30 p.m. on Monday, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said the backup was caused by a combination of downed trees and disabled vehicles.

As of 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, vehicles are at a standstill in a 50-mile stretch of the interstate from Prince William County to Caroline County. Just before 8 a.m., VDOT said they were working to get traffic moving again as best as they could.

"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. Its frustrating & scary. Please know our crews don't stop. Crews will work 24/7 until ALL state-maintained roads are safe for travel," VDOT's Fredericksburg branch said via Twitter.

Virginia State Police said there were no reported crashes on that stretch of I-95 related to the shutdown, and they do not know just how many disabled vehicles there are in that area are at this time.

In response to the situation happening on I-95, Governor Ralph Northam's office issued this statement Tuesday morning:

The Governor’s office has been working throughout the night alongside the Virginia State Police (VSP), Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) to respond to this situation. State and local emergency personnel — with particular support from Spotsyvania, Stafford, Prince William County, Fredericksburg counties — are continuing to clear downed trees along I-95, assist disabled vehicles, and re-route drivers. Since midnight, VSP has responded to 1,016 traffic crashes and assisted 1,026 motorists. An emergency message is going to all stranded drivers connecting them to support, and the state is working with localities to open a warming shelter for passengers, as needed.

While sunlight is expected to help VDOT treat and clear roads, all Virginians must continue to avoid the interstate and follow directions of emergency personnel.

Jonathan McNamara with the American Red Cross said at this time, they have not been contacted to assist with the situation on I-95.

It was a similar response from the Virginia National Guard when asked if they were called to assist. Their spokesperson said they have received any formal requests for assistance, but will continue to monitor the situation.

Stranded With No End in Sight

Randy Anderson, a man from Mechanicsville who was driving home from a vacation in New Hampshire, was one of the many people stranded.

He said he made it to Washington D.C. around 4:30 p.m. on Monday. As of 11 p.m., he had only made it to around Fredericksburg.

Poster image (29).jpg
I-95 remained closed for a 50-mile stretch Tuesday morning.

Dozens of others have contacted CBS 6 to share their driving experiences. One said that they have been stuck on the road for six hours. Another woman said that her brother, his wife and their two small children are preparing to sleep in their car tonight.

"Right now, there's three lanes open but it's a lot of trucks. And it's, I mean, you'll move 20, 30 yards and then you're stopped and you put it in park and you wait a few minutes and then you move another 20, 30 yards. I mean, everybody's kind of scratching their heads, what's going on," Anderson said.

He said that he hoped to get home by 1 a.m.

Senator Tim Kaine is among the countless number of people stranded on the stretch of highway, according to his Twitter.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.