Black ice blamed for Friday-morning wrecks
Posted February 26, 2015
Updated February 27, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Slush and snow-covered roads turned slick overnight, creating black ice and dangerous driving conditions Friday morning and at least one fatal wreck.
The worst spots were those in shaded spots, along curves, bridges and ramps to and from major routes.
One person died around 7:45 a.m. after a truck collided with a rock hauler on N.C. Highway 87 north of Spring Lake near Bragg Boulevard. According to investigators, the pickup was traveling north when the driver hit a patch of ice, lost control and slammed into the front of the hauler.
The pickup's driver, whose name has not been released, was killed, and the other driver suffered minor injuries.
An accident on Interstate 85 near Hillsborough closed the northbound lanes of that highway just before 8:30 a.m.
In Raleigh, police cited "multiple weather-related collisions" in closing eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 at Gorman Street. Raleigh police officers responded to about 40 weather-related incidents between 6 and 10 a.m. Friday.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation prioritizes snow cleanup on interstates and major roads statewide.
When temperatures dipped below freezing early Friday, wet spots had the chance to freeze. Problems arise when motorists driving at high speeds hit those patches of ice.
DOT officials say there is not much that can be done to prevent black ice and that, no matter how many crews are on roadways, there will always be black ice.
Instead, crews take a reactionary stance and treat trouble spots when they are notified.
"You can't see ice at night. So, they can't go out and spot-check and spot places, and they can't go out and spray brine and salt all over the place," spokesman Steve Abbott said. "We have more than 400 lane-miles of interstate and more than 1,000 miles of primary roads."
The DOT faced the same scrutiny after snow last February. It stands by its after-storm strategy but says it will re-evaluate crew effectiveness once cleanup is complete.
Abbott pointed out that the governor, DOT, media and law enforcement warned motorists about the potential for black ice.
About 1,700 DOT employees were on the job Thursday, including 1,000 on the roads. About 1,000 trucks, 191 graders and more than 500 contract trucks and graders have been deployed across the state.
Crews used 11,000 tons of salt, 1,700 tons of salt/sand mix and about 1.6 million gallons of brine solution on roads.