Motorists stranded on East Coast interstate, reminiscent of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive in 2011

Hundreds of motorists are finally home Tuesday night after a nearly day-long ordeal that left them stranded on an East Coast interstate. 

On Monday, a 50-mile stretch of I-95 just south of Washington, D.C. came to a standstill.  Police say tractor-trailers jack-knifed during the winter storm, clogging up lanes for drivers.

Hundreds of drivers were forced to spend the night inside their cars in freezing temperatures. Among them: Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

"Thank goodness I have a warm coat and I had a full tank of gas," Kaine said. "There were an awful lot of people who were stranded right along with me whose cars slid off the road, who ran out of gas, their cars were packed with kids."

The I-95 back-up is reminiscent of what happened on Lake Shore Drive in 2011, when a dangerous combination of major snowfall and freezing winds led to hundreds of vehicles — including several CTA buses — stranded in deep snow overnight, abandoned.  


The debacle led to changes to Lake Shore Drive's center median, which can now accommodate emergency U-turns. 

Still, this week's Virginia pileup may have been even more harrowing given that many drivers were stranded miles away from any gas, food, or services.  

"There were periods of 5 or 6 hours where we were just in the middle of the night, stopped on the interstate, not moving," said Senator Kaine.

As of Tuesday night, the Virginia State Police had not reported any injuries or deaths related to the massive backup.