RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin prepares for his inauguration, his team is preparing for a problem that will hit them on day one in office: a winter storm threatening to blanket Virginia in snow.
The pressure is on for Youngkin to avoid the kind of crisis his predecessor, Governor Ralph Northam, faced in his last few weeks in office.
Northam’s administration was perceived to have fumbled their response to a snow storm earlier this month that left drivers stranded on I-95 — with some stuck for more than 24 hours.
StormTracker8 has been projecting up to 5″ of snow on the same stretch of I-95 that became a parking lot during the last storm – and up to 10″ for some of the counties hardest hit by extended power outages.
The incoming administration is hoping to avoid that kind of shutdown this time around.
Shepard Miller, Youngkin’s pick for Transportation Secretary, said of the storm, “It could be ugly.”
But when he appeared before the House of Delegates Transportation Committee on Thursday, none of the committee members asked him any questions about his storm qualifications – much to Miller’s surprise.
“No one?” he quipped. “Perfect.”
But the agency he’s hoping to head was forced to apologize just this week for their response to the crisis on I-95.
“I am just so sorry that that happened to anybody,” said Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine. “It was heartbreaking for me that happened to anyone.”
While I-95 will likely dodge treacherous conditions this time around, I-81 and Route 29 West of Richmond may face dangerous conditions.
“We are doing everything that we can to make our roads are safe,” Miller said during his committee hearing. “We keep them open, and that we keep commerce flowing and the citizens being able to get from place to place.“
Youngkin’s team told 8News, “The governor elect has received briefings from the Virginia Department Of Emergency Management on all emergency operations, and is actively coordinating with them on procedures for the incoming weather.“
Though Miller will still have to be confirmed as transportation secretary, he already has some oversight as a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board.