Icy secondary roads keep most schools closed Friday

Posted January 4, 2018 1:17 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— School will be canceled for second day for students in Wake, Johnston, Durham and Cumberland counties and in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District Friday as North Carolina digs out from a winter storm.

Coastal counties New Hanover and Onslow were the first to close. The City of Wilmington saw its largest snow accumulation since 2011.

Johnston County Superintendent Ross Renfrow tweeted to his students, "Be safe and stay warm" in announcing that they'd get an additional day to enjoy the winter weather.

The DOT prioritizes clearing major roads, including interstates and U.S. and N.C. highways, then moves its efforts to secondary streets like Western Boulevard in Raleigh. In a snow event, it can take days for crews to turn their attention to neighborhood streets. The agency said Wake County alone has 456 lane miles of interstates, 642 miles of U.S. routes, 427 lane miles of state routes and 4,305 lane miles of secondary roads.

With secondary roads still largely covered in snow, Gov. Roy Cooper urged drivers to stay off the roads.

“Snow, ice and frigid temperatures mean driving conditions could remain hazardous through the next several days,” Cooper said. “Our transportation crews, state troopers and other first responders are doing a great job, but you can make their jobs easier by staying off the roads unless absolutely necessary.”

Since the storm began, State Highway Patrol troopers responded to more than 1,300 calls for service across central and eastern North Carolina, including nearly 900 collisions.

On Thursday, upwards of 900 organizations – schools, daycares, businesses and government offices – reported to WRAL News that they were closed or opened late to allow employees to avoid driving on snow-slick roads. Across the state, 86 school systems closed schools or opened on a delayed schedule Thursday.

Given temperatures at or near freezing, there is only so much road crews can do. Steve Abbott, spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Transportation said his crews spent Thursday clearing major routes.

"When the temperature starts dropping, we'll get to a point where salt and salt brine won't be effective. Then we will switch to salt and sand for traction," Abbott said.