Local News

Traffic Makes Clearing Roads More Difficult for DOT

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RALEIGH — Ice remains a risk on the roads Friday afternoon, especially because it is catching many drivers off guard.

There are intermittent slippery patches on primary roads and secondary roads.

WRAL crews spotted ice on Interstate 40, 440 (especially between Glenwood Avenue and Six Forks Road), Highway 401 in Fuquay-Varina, and on Wade Avenue.

Durham drivers hit the roads for the first time in many days and found the on- and off-ramps of I-85 and Durham Freeway (147) to be very slick.

The slick spots are causing drivers to brake unexpectedly, which is creating backups.

The DOT says crews are working hard to improve road conditions but the weather and drivers are working against them.

The best time to clear the roads is during the sunshine of the day; that is also when motorists are out and about.

The best solution, says the DOT's Jerry Linder, is warmer weather, but it will not be coming too soon.

Linder says there is sand and salt ready for whatever curves this weekend's weather throws us, but his crews will be smaller this time around. Many of them are returning to Wilmington, Asheville and other areas to prepare for their own blast of winter weather.

Since most parts of the Triangle have the same weather, some residents are wondering why certain places appear to be cleaning up the mess faster than others.

Cary residents give their town high praise for plowing. Public Works Director Mike Bajorak says they used a simple strategy: they plowed while the snow was falling.

Cary bolstered its fleet of plows and spreaders with graders and front-end loaders from local contractors, and the snow removing force is still out in force. Some drivers have put in 45 hours over three days.

A snow clearing crew from Michigan arrived Thursday to help clear the neighborhoods.

The plow operators are not driving blind. Every driver gets a laminated printout of the streets he or she is supposed to clear. The drivers mark off the streets as they clear them, then take the results back to snow command.

Programmers load driver information into the computer system. The results are color coded. Blue is plowed, red needs work.

The system is not perfect; many Cary residents complain that their street still needs work. But, many in the Triangle would feel lucky to have streets as clean.

On Highway 64, the normal rollercoaster ride over the Neuse River bridge appeared to be OK, as did the Neuse bridge on Highway 401 near Rolesville.

The worst spots seem to still be in the shadows, like an area on Highway 98 near U.S. 1.

The sun's warming rays made the going easier for DOT snow plows, but it is still tough for the blades to get under the thick layer of ice.

The plows double-teamed the worst spots, and there was even some grading on some secondary roads, like the bridge on Barwell in southeast Raleigh.

Things are also looking up for some of RTP's biggest firms: access roads and parking lots at GlaxoWellcome and IBM appear to be clean.

But commuters who braved the elements to get to work found themselves in traffic on I-40 by mid-afternoon. Proof positive that some things, like the force of nature, never change.

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Julie Moos, Web Editor

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