Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is among the hundreds of drivers who on Tuesday morning had been trapped for hours in a brutal traffic jam caused by heavy snows and iced-over roads on a highway outside of Washington.
“I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday,” Kaine tweeted at 8:27 a.m. ET. “19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol.”
Still in his car around 10 a.m. ET, Kaine tweeted, “A CT family returning in a packed car from Florida walked by in the middle of the night handing out oranges as we were stopped for hours on I-95. Bless them!”
“This has been a miserable experience, but at some point I kind of made the switch from a miserable travel experience into kind of a survival project,” Kaine said in a phone interview Tuesday morning with Washington radio station WTOP.
The Democratic senator, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 election against former President Donald Trump, said he had intended to return to work Monday to continue Senate negotiations on a voting-rights deal. But more than 21 hours after leaving his home in Richmond, he still has not passed the Stafford Airport, which is about 50 miles from Washington.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, I guess that’s all I can say,” Kaine said.
Stranded vehicles are seen in still image from highway traffic camera video as authorities worked to reopen an icy stretch of Interstate 95 closed after a storm blanketed the U.S. region in snow a day earlier, near Colchester, Virginia, January 4, 2022.
Virginia Department of Transportation | Handout | via Reuters
The Virginia Department of Transportation has closed the I-95 interstate, with disabled vehicles and downed trees being reported in the Fredericksburg area, about 50 miles south of D.C.
“We have an estimated 20-30 trucks stuck” on I-95 northbound, VDOT Fredericksburg tweeted shortly before midnight.
Conditions are hazardous on other Virginia roads, as well, with VDOT warning Louisa County overnight of “several jack-knifed tractor-trailers” on U.S. Route 522.
“We wish we had a timetable, ETA or an educated guess on when travel will resume on I-95. It’s at a standstill in our area with multiple incidents. Its frustrating & scary,” VDOT Fredericksburg tweeted Monday evening.
NBC News’ Josh Lederman, who was also stuck in his vehicle overnight, called the scene “fairly dystopian” in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday morning.
“Nobody knows how long we’re going to be here or hw we’re going to get out,” he reported from his car.
Other drivers stranded in the gridlock were forced to turn off their cars to conserve gasoline, even as temperatures fell well below freezing overnight, Lederman said.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted Tuesday morning that “State and local emergency personnel are continuing to clear downed trees, assist disabled vehicles, and re-route drivers.”
“An emergency message is going to all stranded drivers connecting them to support, and the state is working with localities to open warming shelters as needed. While sunlight is expected to help @VaDOT clear the road, all Virginians should continue to avoid 1-95,” Northam tweeted.
Another reporter, CBS News’ Jim DeFede, said in a video posted at 10 a.m. ET that he has been stuck on I-95 near Quantico for nearly 18 hours.
This is developing news. Please check back for updates.