Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 4, 2014

Icy roads cause crashes

PRINCETON — Icy precipitation and slick road conditions throughout the region kept road crews and first responders busy Monday as more snow arrived in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

Snow is not in today’s forecast, but motorists across the region will want to watch out for black ice during their morning commute, forecasters with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., said Monday evening.

“The temperatures are already down to 20 degrees, and they will be around 10 degrees by morning,” said meteorologist Anita Silverman.

Sunny skies with highs in the 40s have been forecast for today.

Local road crews worked all day Monday to keep main highways open and addressed secondary roads when time was available.

“Obviously, with this particular storm, the ice complicated the situation,” said Tom Camden, supervisor for District 10 of the West Virginia Department of Highways. “While it doesn’t change to a large degree how we treat the roads in these cases, it is a lot more difficult to drive in, and that’s why we’re seeing more accidents. We did have some periods when the snow came down rather quickly. By the time we finished one section and got to the other section, the first section was covered up again.”

Across the state line, the Virginia Department of Transportation warned motorists to beware of rapidly changing road conditions. Drivers were advised to postpone unnecessary travel. If travel was necessary, they were urged to yield to emergency vehicles and snow plows.

Winter road conditions kept first responders busy in both Virginia and West Virginia. The Wytheville Division of the Virginia State Police stayed busy with 11 crashes and 20 disabled vehicles on Monday morning. The division handled 119 calls for service.

Crashes reported in Tazewell County included an overturned ambulance on U.S. Route 460 near the town of  Tazewell. Nobody from that crash was transported to a hospital, according to a Tazewell County 911 dispatcher.

Law enforcement agencies in West Virginia stayed busy, too, with accidents such as minor collisions and vehicles becoming stuck in ditches. Many of the crashes consisted of “people smacking into the back of each other,” said Trooper D.C. Graham of the West Virginia State Police Princeton detachment.

“I think we’ve taken quite a few today,” Graham said. “I’m not sure how many.”

Bad weather has increased the demand for road salt up and down the East Coast, but local crews have a “fair supply,” Camden said.

“But obviously, at this time of year, it starts to get low and it’s harder to get any additional salt in. (Supplies) should get us through this storm without any problems. A lot of times with a storm like this, with ice and such, we may rely more heavily on abrasives than salt,” he stated.

Road crews in both states have been working long hours to keep highways and secondary roads clear.

“I think the public is pretty weary of winter,” Camden said. “It’s an extremely difficult job. Our roads affect everybody. We know what it would be like without (crews). Everybody depends on them. We certainly appreciate this responsibility.”ꆱ

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