VIRGINIA (WDVM) — Hundreds of travelers were stranded on I-95 overnight after Monday’s storm, and now, those who were stranded are urging state officials to take a look into how to prevent future incidents like this from occurring ever again.
“This is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It was horrible,” said Bailey Ferguson, who was traveling with her friend, Taylor Mooney, up to Pittsburgh for a Steelers game. “We kept saying it felt like this is what torture is like.”
Mooney and Ferguson left their home in Oak Island, NC at 7:30 am. By 1 p.m., they were in stop dead traffic on the interstate. By 8 a.m. the next day — 24 hours later — the pair finally managed to make it to a hotel room.
The friends say it felt like a never-ending nightmare.
“There was never any information on when we were going to move or when it was going to be over. That was our biggest question. ‘Are we just going to live here now? Do we just live on the interstate?,'” said Ferguson.
Mooney and Ferguson lost nearly $1,000 in football tickets and paying for hotel rooms in both Pittsburgh and Richmond. Every hotel directly off the interstate was booked, and the pair had to drive an hour back to Richmond to find a room.
Like many of the hundreds trapped on I-95, Mooney and Ferguson are wondering how the incident escalated to the level it did.
“Why was this not prepared for? Why didn’t these snow plows that were coming up the sides of the road and clearing off the rumble strips…Why did they not clear an emergency exit and have somebody directing traffic?,” said Ferguson.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who was stuck on the corridor for 27 hours, says the nearly $7.7 billion in infrastructure funding for the state will help prevent future traffic jams.
“The state transportation officials — the CTB and the incoming Youngkin administration — they’re going to have to strategize what happened on the maintenance side,” said Kaine. “At the federal level, we allocate dollars to the states. They have a broad discretion on how to use these transportation dollars.”
WDVM reached out to the Virginia Department of Transportation regarding future steps to prevent another buildup, but was unable to receive a comment.