DOT now targeting secondary roads

Posted February 1, 2010 5:06 p.m. EST
Updated October 19, 2011 9:37 a.m. EDT

— It could be Wednesday before road crews for the North Carolina Department of Transportation are able to clear snow and ice from secondary roads in some parts of the state, officials said Monday.

Crews spent Saturday and Sunday clearing interstates and major U.S. and state routes of the remains of a winter storm that dropped up to 8 inches of white stuff across the Triangle.

DOT officials said they expect to have 50 percent of secondary roads in Wake County cleared by Monday night.

"There is still a lot of secondary routes that are partially to fully covered in areas," DOT engineer Jason Holmes said. "My biggest advice to the motoring public is don't get a false sense of security when you're traveling on these roads."

The DOT maintains interstates, U.S. and state routes, as well as roads in public subdivisions that meet DOT requirements. Cities handle other public roadways.

Part of the delay on the secondary roads, DOT chief engineer Jon Nance said, has to do with the low temperatures that make crews' work ineffective.

Once the mercury falls to the low 20s and teens, the brine solution on the roadway loses its effect, and ice begins to bond to the pavement.

Plowing a road at that point, Nance said, would remove the top layer of precipitation, but a plow would not be able to break up and remove the rest.

Additional equipment used in northern states would help, but the DOT has chosen not to make that investment, Nance said.

"The reality is that if you don't have a lot of days during the year where you need this, then you have a lot of equipment sitting around," he said.