Traveling only 31 miles in 12 hours on Interstate-95 is an experience that Joseph Catalano never could have imagined being part of his family’s post-Christmas trip to Disney World.
The New Jersey father of two, who says he opted to drive to Orlando over concerns that the flights he had booked would be canceled due to the omicron coronavirus variant, is now among a growing number of travelers who are fuming at Virginia officials after getting trapped on Interstate-95 for hours on end following a Monday snowstorm.
After reaching Maryland Tuesday afternoon, he said to Fox News Digital that he was allowed to “go right into the mess.” “And once that mess was created, there was no turning back.”
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Catalano was on his way with his wife and their two children, aged 7 and 10. He was only six hours away from his home in northern New Jersey when the situation rapidly deteriorated.
“We stopped in hotels and there was people shoulder to shoulder laying… I was going to go in there and say ‘can we get a cot and go in a conference room?’ You couldn’t even walk into the hotel, the Marriott, there was people laying on the floor shoulder to shoulder,” Catalano told Fox News Digital, describing one scene he says he encountered near Quantico, Va.
Catalano stated that he once traveled 31 miles in 12 hour along I-95. He is now calling the situation a “complete failure by the entire state of Virginia.”
“I don’t know where the management comes from. I don’t know how they are not prepared for something like this,” Catalano said. “It wasn’t just black ice. It was this thick layer where my son said ‘dad this would be awesome, I could go ice skating on it’.”
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“This morning, the only way you could get by was to use the tracks from regular cars. You still didn’t see plows. He said that there was only six, eight, or ten inches of snow between lanes.
“I’ve contacted the governor, he finally came out this morning and said he has shelters opening up. It’s a day late and a dollar short,” Catalano said after escaping the travel chaos.
Some are reporting that they are still stuck Tuesday afternoon.
“We had absolutely no idea what we were going into,” Catalano added. “You had all these fancy signs along the highway [saying] ‘mask up, mask up’, ‘save lives, mask up’. Turn the signs on and say ‘turn around’, you know, ‘50-mile backup’, something.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Virginia Department of Transportation(VDOT) states that it is still trying to reopen large portions of I-95, and warns travelers to “expect congestion on major routes.”
“Work continues to remove disabled vehicles & tractor trailers from the travel lanes,” it mentioned in a tweet.
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Drivers who claim to have been stuck are critiquing the agency.
“How about clearing the way to get people safely home? The more you’re messing things up the more serious the situation is getting. We’ve been stuck 14 hours and counting now and are amongst the lucky ones as we still have water and gas. The longer the worse it’ll get,” one user wrote in response to a VDOT Fredericksburg tweet urging stranded drivers to call 911 if they are having a medical emergency.
“Tax dollars at work!” 18 hours of counting stuck sb-i95 another user griped.
A NBC News meteorologist also accused Virginia officialsNot doing enough before.
“Forecast was as accurate as it gets 12 hrs before it started. If I-95 in Virginia doesn’t have the plow/salt capabilities for 8-14″ of snow it should have been preemptively closed,” Bill Karins wrote.
The Virginia Department of Transportation, and the office of Governor. Fox News repeatedly reached out to Ralph Northam asking for comment.
Real-time updates on Google Maps continue to show ongoing traffic-related issues on roads starting on I-95 in Ruther Glen – just north of Richmond – all the way up to exits at the Pentagon.
Source: Fox News