Traffic picks up after icy morning commute
Posted January 14, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Triangle drivers were getting back up to speed by mid-morning Wednesday after slip-sliding their way through the early morning hours.
From Chatham and Orange counties in the west to Nash County in the east, an icy glaze coated roads, sending numerous vehicles skidding into each other and onto the shoulder.
Delays started early in Raleigh, where Wade Avenue at Interstate 440 was closed overnight after a truck hit a power line, downing wires. Raleigh police said that accident, which happened just before midnight Tuesday, was not weather-related.
Although the bulk of the light, freezing rain abated before dawn, temperatures below freezing saw it ice up just as many commuters hit the roads.
Lt. Jeff Gordon of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said troopers responded to more than 50 collision reports in Wake County between about 4:30 and 10 a.m.
Raleigh police officers responded to 40 crashes between midnight and 11 a.m. That's nearly four times the number of crashes compared with the same period a week ago, police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.
One of the worst tie-ups came when a Wake County Public School System fuel truck overturned on Interstate 40 at Gorman Street at about 7 a.m. Westbound lanes were closed through 10 a.m., and police detoured drivers off the highway, onto Gorman Street and back to I-40.
Elevated highways, bridges and outlying roads with less traffic saw a greater likelihood of ice glazing on roads and slip-and-slide crashes.
All Wake County school buses made it to school safely Wednesday morning, but the routes were running slow. District officials said there were significant delays, with some students waiting 30 minutes or more for their buses to arrive.
A district spokeswoman said bus drivers were asked to use an abundance of caution, and that, along with traffic jams, contributed to the buses moving slower than normal.
In Chatham County, two accidents on the U.S. Highway 64 bridge over Jordan Lake closed lanes there before 6 a.m., and traffic through the area remained backed up past 10 a.m. Neither resulted in serious injuries, emergency personnel on the scene said.
In Person County, a DOT truck spreading sand ran off the road and into a ditch.
In Orange County, firefighters en route to an accident slid on ice near the intersection of Phelps and Mason Keyon roads, and their fire truck ended up on its side on the shoulder. No one was hurt.
In Nash County, U.S. Highway 64 westbound was closed near Interstate 95 where a tractor-trailer slid off the road and hit sheriff's car and another vehicle stopped on the shoulder.
Sgt. Michael Baker of the Highway Patrol said Shon Lamont Henderson, 39, of Rocky Mount lost control of his vehicle near Red Oak Road. He slid into the median and hit a guardrail.
Deputy Matthew Joyner, 29, stopped to help and the two men were seated in Joyner's patrol car when a tractor-trailer hit the ice and rear-ended them, pushing the deputy's car into Henderson's SUV. None of the men suffered life-threatening injuries, Baker said.
Both Henderson and the driver of the truck, Roosevelt Collins, 67, of Winston Salem, were charged with exceeding a safe speed for conditions.
Gordon was able to find a ray of sunshine in the icy outlook.
"98 percent have been property-damage wrecks rather than personal-injury wrecks, which is a good thing," Gordon said.
"I think the message got out early after people started getting out on the highways to either a) delay their travel or b) slow their speed."