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VDOT doesn't have enough drivers to clear snow off Virginia roads after a major snowstorm, report finds

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Posted at 6:08 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 18:08:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Even though the temperatures in Virginia hit the 90s this week, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is planning ahead for winter snow removal. A new state investigation found VDOT faces a shortage of contractors with the proper gear to clear the roads when it snows.

The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) findings were released Tuesday.

It reported contractor shortages for upper-level snow removal mobilization plans at five of six area headquarters reviewed by OSIG.

“Without sufficient resources at mobilization levels 4 and 5, major snowstorms have the potential to be crippling unless assistance from other parts of the state can fill the gaps,” the report stated about the AHQ’s reviewed. “In the event of a major statewide storm, VDOT would not be able to keep up without hiring equipment at costly rates and potentially accepting contractor equipment when that equipment has not been inspected or properly insured.”

The report noted the issue was multifaceted and that VDOT leadership was committed to recommendations.

“VDOT needs to find a balance between having sufficient resources and working with acceptable levels of risk. VDOT might need to consider options such as using state employees from other agencies who have commercial driver’s licenses or training VDOT staff who do not operate equipment as part of their normal job to operate equipment during snow events,” OSIG wrote.

The investigation also found VDOT crews did not properly validate contractor equipment nor ensure it was properly insured before they were deployed during snow events.

“There is limited to no validation of trucks reporting for snow removal services to ensure they are the same/correct trucks that were approved through the M-7B process to perform the services,” the report read.

“The possibility exists that contractors substitute uninspected vehicles. This increases the risk of accident,” it continued.

You can read the full report here.

A spokesperson for VDOT sent CBS 6 the following statement:

“The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is committed to meeting our mission when treating roads before, during and after a snowstorm. OSIG’s audit findings are a culmination of several years of work ending with the 2021/2022 snow season. We are working with OSIG to address the issues noted.

Today, we kicked off planning for the upcoming winter season in a statewide Preparedness Workshop with VDOT Central Office and district leadership. A topic of conversation during the workshop included placing an additional focus on securing adequate resources for the snow season.

Signing up contractors for winter weather is a continuing process. As with every snow season, VDOT signs up contractors from June to November. VDOT is currently going through the process of soliciting and hiring contracts for the 2022/2023 winter season.

VDOT appreciates the work and accepts the outcome of OSIG’s review and the recommendations based on their audit and will couple findings from this report along with findings from reviews of the January 2022 snowstorm in order to meet our mission objectives.”

Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia), said the report highlighted the need for additional VDOT resources, which they promised to obtain.

“The governor issued three states of emergencies for snow-related events to mitigate risks and to ensure appropriate resources were available for our response teams. Our preparedness and the safety of Virginia motorists have been and continue to be a priority,” Porter said. “The OSIG report indicates that additional resources are needed for snow removal and the administration will ensure adequate resources are available for all future snow incidents.”

VDOT and OSIG plan to meet in the coming months to review action steps. An estimated completion date for OSIG’s recommendations is set for December 15, 2022.

The report released Tuesday morning is separate from another, ongoing investigation into the January snow storm that stranded thousands of people on I-95 for more than 27 hours in some cases.

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

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