Blizzard Conditions Expected
HANOVER, MD – With predictions for one of Maryland’s biggest snowstorms on record, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is preparing to tackle the blizzard and is urging Marylanders to monitor conditions and avoid travel. The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) have begun pre-treating major highways today and will continue until the snow falls tomorrow. Snow plows will be staged and ready.
“Maryland is expecting to be hit by very severe weather that will impact all modes of transportation,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Our State is taking every precaution, coordinating all available resources to clear the roads, manage incidents, and prepare and recover from this storm.”
Joining Governor Hogan at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency today, Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn outlined the full arsenal of resources on standby, including: 2,700 pieces of equipment; 365,000 tons of salt in 98 salt domes across the state; and 49 SHA CHART emergency response vehicles.
“We have plows, dump trucks, road graders and tow truck operators from SHA, the Transportation Authority and contractors all ready to fight this fierce storm,” said Secretary Rahn. “With the amount of accumulation expected, gusty winds and low visibility, my call to Marylanders is to avoid travel if possible and let our crews do their job.”
The storm is not just a snow event, but a wind event. High winds creating blizzard conditions will make it difficult to keep roads clear with snow drifting back onto the highways soon after they have been plowed. High winds also will result in wind warnings and/or restrictions on toll bridges. Snow or high winds would prevent two-way operations at the Bay Bridge during Friday’s afternoon rush-hour, which may result in significant eastbound delays.
MDOT will work to keep all roadways open as long as conditions are deemed safe. The I-95 Express Toll Lanes in Baltimore will close as necessary for crews to focus on clearing the adjacent lanes of mainline I-95.
At Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, airport personnel, airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration are working closely to manage safe operations. BWI Marshall’s snow team is ready to perform snow removal on airport runways and taxiways, public roadways and parking lots. The team includes about 145 skilled and highly-trained employees utilizing roughly 55 specialized vehicles, including 13 high-speed, multi-functional vehicles that incorporate plow, sweeper, and jet blower operations. BWI Marshall also uses five snow melters to clear snow from aircraft ramp areas.
A number of airlines have announced travel advisories and have waived change fees for customers traveling through the airport. Customers with travel plans beginning Friday and continuing through the weekend should monitor weather forecasts and contact their airlines for updated flight status. Airlines may cancel some, or all flights over the next several days. Passengers traveling today should consider parking in BWI’s covered spaces in the Daily or Hourly garages. More than 10,000 spaces are available.
The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is one of the largest multi-modal transit agencies in the country. MTA has developed a comprehensive strategy to keep buses, subways cars and light rail trains operating. Salt trucks with plows are prepared to remove or reposition snow on Light Rail and Metro Subway parking lots. Light Rail alone uses approximately 160 tons of salt to clear parking lots along its 27-mile length. Mobility paratransit services requests its passengers consider whether their trip might best be delayed until the storm has cleared.
While crews are preparing snow removal equipment for plowing and salting roadways and access points to the Helen Delich Bently Port of Baltimore, the Port will stop work at its cargo terminals at 7 p.m. on Friday and will remain closed on Saturday and Sunday. Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas is still scheduled to dock Sunday morning and sail Sunday late afternoon weather permitting.
Motor Vehicle Administration locations are likely to be closed. Customers are urged to visit the website for updates and to take advantage of on-line services. Officials recommend contacting the MVA if driving skills tests must be rescheduled due to weather conditions.
Although every effort will be made to keep the state’s roadways and transportation services open and operating, the public should expect disruption and delays as the storm progresses. To find out if State offices are open, click on this link: http://dbm.maryland.gov/employees/Pages/WeatherRel.aspx
MDOT discourages traveling and offers the following resources to help keep Marylanders safe and informed of transportation conditions statewide: