By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
How do transportation agencies and first responders clear the roads after a major accident or incident? What purpose do some of those unusual-looking trucks serve? How do transportation agencies monitor traffic in our region? If you’re curious about the behind-the-scenes work to keep traffic moving in our area, the upcoming Incident Management Open House will be incredibly educational — and fun for the family, too!
In an area as heavily populated as Northern Virginia is, we’ve all seen our share of major traffic incidents. We may see the crashes, the turnovers, downed trees, and more, and the first responders who are there to protect life and property. What we don’t see, though, is all the behind-the-scenes communication and coordination that takes place among numerous entities to help clear the roads and keep the public safe. At an event this weekend, though, you can learn a bit about that.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will host the Incident Management Open House on Saturday, November 10, 2018. This free community event will showcase dozens of heavy-duty trucks and specialized equipment, plus live demonstrations and tours of a transportation operations center. More than a “touch a truck” event, serves to show the public an incident from the perspective of first responders who work in the roadway every day. The event ties into the Federal Highway Administration’s (FWA) National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, Nov. 11-17.
The Incident Management Open House, from 10 am to 2 pm at VDOT’s Northern Virginia District Office, will feature a simulated crash scene, more than 60 trucks and other vehicles, and outdoor and indoor exhibits. The public can see vehicles including an evacuation trailer, traffic trailer, spill trailer, incident management response vehicle, front-end loader, dump truck, bridge inspection bucket truck, fire and rescue apparatus, an armored personnel carrier, mobile command bus, police helicopter, police motorcycles, drones, hazmat units, fire and rescue boat, tow trucks, and more. Participating agencies include VDOT and police and fire agencies from Fairfax County, Falls Church, Arlington County, Prince William County, the state of Maryland, and other organizations. The full, detailed list of participating agencies lists the equipment each will showcase.
Live demonstrations include K-9 skills, a trapped patient extrication, towing recovery, drone crash reconstruction, and tree removal. Traffic anchors Bob Marbourg and Dave Dildine from WTOP News also will be there, and there will be a kid’s zone and food trucks.
Inside the VDOT Northern Virginia District Office where the event takes place, at 4975 Alliance Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030, there also will be an indoor expo. Exhibits there will provide information about the technology that the VDOT Transportation Operations Center and Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination use to monitor traffic. Guests also can learn about learn about the FWA’s Strategic Highway Research Program training.
Admission to the event is free, but if you register online it will help organizers know what kind of attendance to expect. To learn more about how federal agencies, local governments, and private organizations work together to keep traffic moving, and to get a preview of the event, see this one-minute introductory video. You also can see event updates on the Incident Management Open House Facebook page.
Image by VDOT