Is VDOT up to the job?
In Floyd County, at least five percent of the roads hadn't seen a snowplow by Saturday.
Lots of complaints throughout the Roanoke and New River Valleys and Floyd County about what residents see as a failure by the Virginia Department of Transportation to prepare for or keep up with the massive amounts of snow that fell on the area last week.
Complaints have flowed in from Muse readers and appeared on Facebook from residents complaining about secondary roads not getting any attention five days after the storm struck.
Few are faulting the work crews who have put in long hours fighting the mess. Locust Grover Supervisor Lauren Yoder reported talking to some local VDOT workers who are “exhausted and tired of snow.”
Severe budget cutbacks in the Virginia agency that have left them short on maintenance facilities and adequate equipment to handle the more than two feet of snow that blanketed the area on Wednesday and Thursday of last week.
Many roads that trucks have plowed have only one lane open and lots of snow and ice to hamper attempts to get from point A to point B in a safe and timely fashion.
The problem is not with the overextended workers who are out on the roads trying to deal with the problem but with management of the agency and Virginia government.
Jason Bond of VDOT’s office in Salem initially claimed that all primary and secondary roads in Southwestern Virginia would be plowed within 48 hours of the storm.
In Floyd County, however, at least five percent of the roads hadn’t seen a snowplow by Saturday.
VDOT officials then said Monday that all roads have been plowed at least once. Many residents dispute that claim, saying many secondary roads in Floyd County remain untouched.
Floyd County schools called off classes for Tuesday — the fourth straight day of cancellations after the school day was cut short last Wednesday.
On several roads, residents said neighbors and farmers with tractors cleared the roads and helped with opening driveways.
On Sandy Flats Road Monday morning, I came upon a woman walking alongside the high piles of snow from clearing the road. She said she was walking to Ingram’s store on U.S. 221 to get needed dog food. I gave her a ride.
A VDOT spokesman, when contacted Monday, could not a provide an answer on just when the all roads would be clear on all lanes.
Long-time newspaperman, photographer and videographer who still shoots photos and covers government and courts for a newspaper, shoots video for TV and documentary use and owns web sites like Blue Ridge Muse, Capitol Hill Blue and American Newsreel.