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It took more than 100 days and $23 million, but Virginia roads are now clear after February ice storms

Posted at 1:48 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 13:48:23-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- One hundred and thirty-six days after an ice storm knocked over trees and downed power lines in parts of Southside Virginia, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) announced it had completed removing thousands of fallen trees and branches from roadways in the 14-county Richmond District.

The total cost of the clean-up was approximately $23 million, according to VDOT.

While the storm hit on February 13, 2021, the VDOT Richmond District began its long-term tree debris cleanup on February 26, 2021.

"Work was executed through an emergency contract with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM)," a VDOT spokesperson wrote in an email. "Crews relocated more than 460,000 cubic yards, or more than 9,100 loads of tree debris from interstate, primary and secondary roadsides in the Richmond District."

VDOT crews initially focused on getting trees and tree parts off the roads so utility crews could restore electricity to those who lost power in the storm.

It took many more weeks for crews to go back through the impacted areas to remove the debris from the roadside.

“VDOT would like to thank residents for their patience during the cleanup process,” Richmond District Maintenance Engineer Sean Nelson, said. “We would also like to thank VDEM, our contracting community, and all VDOT crews who worked both during the storm and for months after to make roads passable and ultimately relocate the debris.

More than 20,000 Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) customers lost power during the February storms.

Many thousands of those customers were without power for several days. For some people, it took weeks for power to be restored.

"This storm took down 80% of our system in a matter of hours," SEC President Jeff Edwards said on February 25, 2021. "Restoration from such devastation takes time, and the line crews on the ground have worked as safely and quickly as possible in the face of incredible challenges.”