UPDATE: All Sections of Route 53 Now Open

By: Mark Tenia Email
By: Mark Tenia Email

December 21, 2009

Officials say Route 53 between Route 729 and the Fluvanna County line has been reopened. The stretch of road was closed Sunday night, and remained so throughout the day Monday.

Albemarle County Police began removing abandoned cars from the small stretch of highway at 8:00 am Monday morning. Officials decided to shut down the road Sunday night because they did not want to add to the pile, and they also wanted to make it easier on crews working to remove the abandoned cars from the roadways.

It's been three days since snow first started falling in the area, and Monday crews dealt with much more than plowing on Route 53. Workers from Albemarle County, VDOT, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tried to keep themselves from facing the same fate as the abandoned cars they worked to free.

However, road clearing was held up from around 1:00 pm until 2:15 pm Monday afternoon when one of the bulldozers slipped into a ditch and had to be freed by a 50-ton FEMA tow truck. Officials say it was an ironic sign of just how treacherous the roads were for drivers this past weekend.

“By the time I got over to Route 53, I did have to abandon my vehicle because the firefighter said I couldn't go any farther. I passed at least 30 vehicles that just slid off the side of the road,” said Marie Skylark, a resident of Albemarle County.

Skylark says it took her hours Friday evening to make it within a mile of her home in Charlottesville, only to have authorities tell her she couldn't go any farther.

“Certainly, when you have some cars that have been abandoned, it just compounds the problem even further and makes snow removal even that much more difficult,” said Sgt. Peter Mainzer, of the Albemarle County Police Department.

Albemarle County Police say that after they pull the abandoned cars off the roads, many of them are ending up at the Mount Eagle church, at the intersection of Route 53 and Route 729. Drivers whose vehicles are removed should contact the Albemarle County Police Department at 434-296-5807.

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