Published: 2009-03-02 04:23:00
Updated: 2009-03-09 17:13:14
Posted March 2, 2009 4:23 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Although state Department of Transportation crews began plowing snow and ice from roads early Monday, dozens of wrecks were reported across the Triangle during the morning commute.
"The roads are a little slushy in spots," WRAL traffic reporter Brian Shrader said. "You can get through it, but certainly, you want to stay home if you can."
State troopers handled about 135 wrecks in the Triangle between midnight and 11 a.m., said Capt. Everett Clendenin of the state Highway Patrol. Most were in Wake, Durham, Granville and Person counties, he said.
"We have been busy, but not nearly as busy as we were during that January snowstorm," Clendenin said, noting that few injuries have been reported in the wrecks. "So far, we've been lucky."
Raleigh police responded to about 25 wrecks Monday morning, while Durham police reponded to 45 wrecks, authorities said.
At least one person was injured when a Triangle Transit bus and a Lay's potato chip truck were involved in a wreck on Interstate 540 near Creedmoor Road in north Raleigh. The chip truck wound up upside-down on an embankment off the highway, and the bus skidded across the median.
In northern Harnett County, a car rear-ended a school bus carrying 15 to 18 students from Harnett Central High School and Harnett Central Middle School that was stopped at a railroad crossing, authorities said. Five students were taken to Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, authorities said.
The front of the car slid under the back of the bus. There was no word Monday morning on whether the car's driver was injured in the wreck.
Durham County deputies, Durham police and the Highway Patrol were handling numerous accidents on Interstate 40 and the Durham Freeway, but no serious injuries were reported in any of those.
Secondary roads were the biggest trouble spots, as moisture wasn't cleared from them as quickly as on major thoroughfares, Clendenin said. The resulting slush made these roads slicker than others, he said.
"People are just traveling too fast on these secondary roadways. They lose control in the curves or when they have to apply brakes to slow down for traffic. They're slipping and sliding around," he said.
Bridges and overpasses also remained slick Monday, he said.
With several inches of snow on the ground and more continuing to fall, Cary’s "Snow Fighters" started plowing main roads early Monday.
“Despite the great job our folks are doing with the plows, the roads are very slick, and we’re encouraging everyone to stay put this morning for as long as they can,” Public Works Director Mike Bajorek said in a release.
Officials said there were two storm-related traffic accidents in Cary, neither with serious injuries.
The crews were working to clear thoroughfares first followed by primary roads in subdivisions, then through-streets in subdivisions.
In Raleigh, crews were hitting major roadways, as well. On Sunday, 50 trucks and 2,400 tons of salt were on stand-by until snow started falling.
Two days worth of rain had soaked road surfaces, preventing crews from the standard practice of pre-treatment, said Daniel Kirsch, assistant streets supervisor for Raleigh's public works department.
Municipal and state crews usually lay down brine – a mixture of water and salt that prevents ice from bonding to pavement. They couldn't this weekend because the falling rain would simply wash it away.
Raleigh crews prioritize plowing to clear bridges first, followed by major roads and routes used by Capital Area Transit buses.
North Carolina Department of Transportation crews delayed pre-treating highways as well, department spokeswoman Dara Demi said. After snow started falling, state crews were to begin spreading salt on roadways.
The department issued a statement Sunday night advising drivers to limit travel as much as possible.
The Town of Chapel Hill applied salt and sand to primary routes, bridges, hills after snow began to fall. Town plows also started plowing snow from primary streets, officials said.
Clendenin said state troopers already were preparing Monday morning for the possibility of icy roads early Tuesday.
"It just depends on if the sun can come out (Monday) and the wind to dry these roads up," he said. "If we have the moisture on the roadways ... that moisture freezes overnight, and we going to have some problems in the morning (Tuesday)."
Most area counties were under winter weather advisories until 9 a.m. Tuesday because of the possibility of icy roads.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol offered these tips to help drivers navigate slick roads.