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.”
Kaine’s press secretary, Ilse Zuniga, told CNBC that the senator had been driving back to Capitol Hill from his home in Richmond. He is safe but remained stuck on the highway as of Tuesday morning, Zuniga said.
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.
This is developing news. Please check back for updates.