The Maryland State Highway Administration issued the following news release just after 11 a.m. Thursday:
In the aftermath of the winter storm, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) remain fully deployed and continue storm clean up operations.
“One hundred percent of SHA’s personnel and equipment have been out since before the storm hit Wednesday afternoon. While there have been dramatic improvements in the last several hours, motorists need to know that hazards still linger,” said SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen. “Crews are clearing roads and encountering abandoned vehicles as they work, which is impeding plowing operations. Also present along ramps and travel lanes is hard packed snow, which can be particularly slick and a hazard for drivers traveling too fast for conditions.”
SHA crews made substantial progress overnight. Once the snow stopped at midnight, during a five hour period, crews were able to open major State roads for the morning rush hour. SHA continues to plow and treat area roadways that are still snow/slush/ice covered. Many of the roads are down to wet, bare pavement.
Wednesday’s storm presented several challenges to SHA and motorists alike. At its height, the storm dumped up to two inches of snow an hour reducing visibility and creating slick driving conditions. This coincided with the afternoon peak commuting period. The combination of severe weather, heavy traffic, and abandoned/disabled vehicles created a perfect storm scenario and resulted in back ups that also trapped SHA crews. In some cases crews were diverted from plowing operations to assist drivers of passenger vehicles and tractor trailers.
Drawing on experiences from last winter’s storms the SHA mobilized and extensively used heavy duty tow trucks to assist with clearing disabled tractor trailers and other heavy trucks. Yesterday evening and throughout the early morning, disabled vehicles blocked and closed roadways for extended periods of time. The areas most impacted include: