03/04/14 — Major thoroughfares get early attention

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Major thoroughfares get early attention

By Steve Herring and Matt Caulder
Published in News on March 4, 2014 1:46 PM

Wayne County residents woke up to a coating of ice on city and county streets and roads today, causing problems for many morning commuters.

The sleet and freezing rain that fell overnight layered roadways in black ice, Public Works Director Jose Martinez said.

"Last night I got up with the police captain and he said no accidents yet but that a couple of cars had slid off the road," Martinez said. "He said they slid off on U.S. 70 and 117 so we got our guys out there to salt and sand. We were spreading salt and sand around 9 p.m. We started at 8 p.m. and it took us about an hour to load up our trucks."

Once up and running, Martinez said city employees began by spreading salt and sand over notoriously treacherous overpasses crossing U.S. 70 -- on Spence Avenue for instance -- before moving on to the city-maintained thoroughfares.

"We got John and Slocumb streets, so we covered our main north to south roads and we have gotten many of our secondary roads," Martinez said. "We haven't gotten Ash because it is (a North Carolina Department of Transportation street) but we have gotten Arrington Bridge Road for the waste water treatment plant. There is a bad spot coming right into there."

Martinez said his employees will spread salt and sand around city offices in preparation for them opening to the public at noon.

"We want to get salt and sand out there for people to have a surface to walk on," Martinez said.

No plow trucks have been in operation because they are equipped for removing snow, not ice, officials said.

State Department of Transportation crews have been busy as well, but county Maintenance Supervisor Luther Thompson said he is hoping for some help from the sun as well.

"I hope it gets warm enough to warm the pavement and help break the ice away from it," Thompson said.

DOT did not apply the usual brine solution to the road in advance of the storm because it started as rain, he said. The rain would have diluted the brine, making it less effective, he explained

Instead, DOT put down salt, treating the four-lane roads and some primary two-lane roads overnight. The roads were still partially covered in ice this morning, Thompson said.

Drivers might see a bare spot of road followed by an icy spot, he warned.

Work was halted late last night when a heavy downpour of sleet hit. The plows just could not push anything of the road, Thompson said.

The crews are at it again today applying salt and brine to the four-lane roads and major two-lane roads. Crews were expected to begin treating secondary roads later today.

"I hope this is it," Thompson said, referring to two recent winter storms that caused traffic problems. "This is the first year that we had this many snow events at one time."

As the day goes on, city workers are in a holding pattern ready to give extra attention to areas that need it.

"Now we are in a reactive state," Martinez said. "We spent all night from 9 p.m. on spreading salt and sand and now we are ready to go out and hit hot spots as needed."

Martinez said to call the non-emergency police line to report bad spots and the police can get in touch with him.

The non-emergency police line is 919-580-4239.