A birds eye view of Mississippi roads starting Tuesday morning looked like a scene out of a snow globe. Closer to ground, it was a nightmare for drivers. Hundreds of accidents happened, even after crews prepped the roads for the storm.
"We just can't go out and put the pre-treatment on every road, every inch of every road," explained Wes Dean, MDOT Assistant Chief Engineer for Field Operations. "You don't have the supplies to do that sort of thing."
MDOT has a check-list when the forecast calls for winter weather.
"We pre-treat the bridges with chemicals and then we come back and we put salt and/or sand or slag on the bridges afterwards," said Dean.
For drivers on the slick roads, they're asking if the plan really works.
"That's effective in the beginning," Dean said. "But then when you get several inches of accumulation, you have the issue of thawing and refreezing. And you pretty much have to go through the same operation again because the material gets trapped down under the ice."
Refreezing roads kept the accident counts up for more than 24 hours. The Highway Patrol has responded to more than 600 accidents in south Mississippi. MDOT tried to play catch up the best it could.
"It's a manpower thing too," described Dean. "It's just being able to get around. Even with our northern districts coming down and supplying extra vehicles, it's just being able to get around to everything multiple times."
Multiple trips to trouble spots are often determined by resources. Widespread events like this stretch everything that's available.
"It's hard with the budgets being the way they are for say the southern, the Hattiesburg and McComb districts to proactively go and buy tons of salt and chemicals that they might not use for a few years." explained Dean.
MDOT has had some problems traveling to the locations that need attention. It's just as dangerous for some of their crews as it is the general public.
Monday, September 15 2014 5:39 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:39:25 GMT
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