DOT Crews Continue To Work Around The Clock To Clear Roads

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RALEIGH, N.C. — As snow and freezing rain continues to fall across much of the state, road conditions remain hazardous and officials are asking drivers to stay off the roads.

The hazardous weather conditions are creating several road closures throughout the Triangle area. Cary officials have announced the closing of SE Maynard Road near Cary High School.

The Raleigh police department has shut down a portion of Duraleigh Road near a rock quarry. Tryon Road near the RGA golf course is also closed.

In Durham, there are no roads closed, but most are slick. It is especially slow at the I-85 and Highway 70 split.

A tractor-trailer was also involved in an accident on I-95 at the Halifax-Northampton county line that left a state trooper with a broken leg.

The N.C. Department of Transportation says more than 6,000 employees were at work Thursday, clearing snow and ice from roads across North Carolina.

The workers are running equipment around the clock and the DOT says it has 2,775 pieces of equipment on the roads.

Crews were sent from western counties where snowfall was light to help clear roads in the central parts of the state.

Crews are clearing interstate highways first, then U.S. and state routes followed by secondary roads.

The department warns that road conditions will be hazardous during the night as bridges and overpasses freeze.

Many people said it took DOT crews too long to dig them out of the big January 2000 snowstorm. The DOT has fewer snowplow drivers now than it did two years ago.

"We have a shortage of our employees right now because of the hiring freeze that went on with the state this past year. We're just starting to get a couple of guys on," DOT engineer Jerry Linder said. "They're new. We're still about 15 people short."

After the hiring freeze and drivers moving to other jobs, the DOT has 75 snowplow operators assigned to Wake County. During the big storm of 2000, 90 drivers worked to dig out Wake County.

"We had to make some adjustments. Trucks won't be out there as quickly as I'd like to have them out there because I had to move trucks from one spot to another to try to get the coverage done," Linder said.

The Highway Patrol says anyone who doesn't have to be on the roads should stay home and not drive so plows can clear snow.

In Anson County east of Charlotte, James William Morris of Cheraw, S.C., died after he was hit by a tractor-trailer Wednesday evening on U.S. 52.

Morris, 46, had stopped to help a motorist stranded due to the storm and was walking on the side of the highway near the town of McFarlan, state Highway Patrol Sgt. Everett Clendenin said.

The state Highway Patrol said that it responded to more than 100 accidents in the eastern part of the state alone on Wednesday night.

"We are just inundated with calls," said Clendenin.

There are multiple reports of cars abandoned along roadways, causing hazards for recovery vehicles and for motorists trying to make their way.

In Raleigh, police are having abandoned cars towed off roads so plows can work.