Motorists stranded on the East Coast Freeway, reminiscent of Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive in 2011

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Hundreds of motorists finally made it home on Tuesday evening after a nearly day-long ordeal that left them stranded on an east coast freeway.

On Monday, a 50-mile stretch of I-95 just south of Washington, DC came to a halt. Police say the tractor-trailers were jackknifed during the winter storm, obstructing 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 so many people who were stuck with me whose cars skidded off the road, who ran out of gas, their cars were full of children.”

The I-95 backup recalls what happened on Lake Shore Drive in 2011, when a dangerous combination of heavy snowfall and freezing winds led to hundreds of vehicles – including several CTA buses – stranded in deep snow overnight, abandoned.

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The breakup prompted changes to the central median of Lake Shore Drive, which can now accommodate emergency U-turns.

Yet this week’s Virginia pileup may have been even more heartbreaking given that many drivers were stranded miles 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 freeway, not moving,” Senator Kaine said.

As of Tuesday evening, Virginia State Police had reported no injuries or deaths related to the mass backup.

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