Local News

Storm Tests Raleigh Roads Plan

Posted January 18, 2007

— A snow-emergency plan adopted two years ago after a surprise storm paralyzed Raleigh for hours got its first test Thursday, and local officials said it passed.

Roads across Raleigh were gridlocked for hours on Jan. 19, 2005, after a flurry of snowflakes closed businesses and schools in the early after noon and made roads slick. People spent hours in their cars, and hundreds of children spent the night at school because school buses couldn't run.

The public outcry pushed city leaders to form a new road-clearing plan that includes a pre-emptive strike. Trucks spread a salt brine solution on major roads Wednesday before anything fell to help prevent ice from forming.

"Although it wasn't exactly how we thought it'd play out, we did prepare for the worst, and we think the salt brine helped make a difference," Raleigh Street Superintendent Elwood Davis said.

A dozen trucks sprayed salt brine overnight, and the city dispatched about 25 salt trucks Thursday morning to make sure roads stayed clear, Mayor Charles Meeker said.

"We could tell (Thursday) morning the roads that we treated with brine and then the side streets that we had not," Davis said. "So, there was a period of time there that we thought it was really paying off, and then when the temperatures warmed and it started raining, that's the part of the forecast I really liked."

The warmer temperatures were the biggest help in clearing the icy mess from the storm, Davis said.

"The storm two years ago, we didn't have the forecast in advance that something could come that would cause us issues like this time, so (the plan) did work well. We just have to take that as a basis and make sure we err on the side of caution," he said.

Meeker said recent warm temperatures and the fact that the storm came early in the morning made it easier to handle than the storm two years ago.

"The storm, if we had colder ground temperatures, would have been more difficult," he said. "(This storm) came when people could make a choice of when to go to work or whether to go to work as opposed to already being at the office (like in 2005)."

The city roads plan could get another test this weekend, with forecasts calling for the possibility of more winter weather late Sunday.

"I think we got a pretty good test," Meeker said. "We'll be ready again this weekend."

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  • ltbarkley Jan 19, 2007

    Slow down, yes, but don't go TOO SLOW. Problems can occur if someone is going 15mph in a 45 and another person is going 30. The main thing is to allow enough space (6 to 8 seconds) and NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS! Many people lose control when doing something like suddenly changing lanes. This will start a slide you will not recover from. Gradual movements, gradual slowing, gradual acceleration are key.

  • Fence Straddler Jan 19, 2007

    Everyone (even: relocated northerners),
    Allow more following distance on wet or inclimate weather days.
    Watch out for the driver's in front and around you.
    Don't travel in packs.
    Stay off the breaks!
    Drive MUCH SLOWER than usual.
    (More control is in front of your vehicle than in the rear.)

    Drive safely and always wear your safety belt!

  • no screen name Jan 18, 2007

    will there be a delay on Friday?

  • mptypokets Jan 18, 2007

    "Local officials" are fooling themselves if they think this latest "test" passed. The events that led to gridlocked roads for hours on January 19, 2005 were not very simular to the events that happened today. The weather on January 19 was a factor, but not as great a factor as the many discourteous drivers that caused the gridlock. Luckily, the winter event today occurred during the early morning hours before we were all at work and at school. You can't compare "apples to oranges!"

  • Lovinlif Jan 18, 2007

    From what I've seen and heard, the road plan went pretty well, but didn't pass with flying colors. Give 'em a couple of runs at it and I'm confident that it will go better.

  • diamondintherough Jan 18, 2007

    I think the roads were in good shape this morning, I am glad that the DOT took precautions last night, there were accidents today, however I think some people simply panic when the roads are slick and they tend to speed up or make spontaneous reactions. Slowwwww down, think before you do and keep your distance, do not Slam on your brakes either. Everyone...be safe