UPDATE: Police, MoDOT Prepare For Evening Commute After a Messy Morning
Police and road crews are preparing for the evening commute. MoDOT crews will work into the night, after slick roads and accidents prevented morning road treatments.
UPDATED: 4:00 p.m.-
Missouri Department of Transportation officials said in news release Thursday afternoon, snow removal operations will be underway all evening and overnight. This news comes after messy morning roads throughout St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties.
"We have full crews (204 trucks) throughout the St. Louis region focusing on re-treating every interstate and major route with salt, chemicals and beet juice before rush-hour. Chemicals have to be used with salt to be effective in these low 20's temperatures to break up any icy patches," MoDOT stated in the news release. "MoDOT is re-plowing areas as needed with the wind gusts blowing some snow back on the roads. We will continue to have full crews working until all roads are mostly clear. Overnight, we will have crews monitor the roads for re-freeze and continue treating and plowing areas needed."
The news comes after road crews and police spent the morning dealing with accidents and traffic back-ups. The morning rush hour lasted until around 11 a.m., according to MoDOT. Now police and road crews are preparing for the evening commute.
"People still need to be careful. There is still ice on ramps and we are expecting snow squalls throughout the night," warned Ed Hassinger, MoDOT District Engineer for the St. Louis region. "We'll be out throughtout the day and possibly into the night, until we get the roads back to a dry conditions. Hopefulling things will get better this afternoon, at least that's what we're planning for."
Hassinger, tells Patch a major factor in the morning's issues was the amount of traffic on the roads.
"I know people are not happy with rush hour this morning, but really the issue this morning was the snow and ice came at just the right time. With the treatment process it has to be continual. Crews got the first hour to melt off and then rush hour hit and and crews couldn't get back on the roads quickly enough," Hassinger explained. "Rush hour hits, traffic gets backed up and our trucks are stuck in the same traffic as everyone else."
Hassinger said despite crews coming in at midnight, and over 200 trucks running non-stop, when a few drivers began getting stuck or having accidents, it delayed the entire treatment process and caused more problems.
"With the snow removal process, you put salt down and it melts the snow, but as the snow melts, it dilutes the salt which becomes less effective. It (salt) doesn't melt any more snow, so you have to be continually making rounds," Hassinger tells Patch. "When we can't get that next round down, then everything turns to ice and that is what happened to us this morning on the interstates. Once you get behind you just can't recover and what we're doing now is recovering."
(Did you get stuck in Thursday morning's traffic? Tell us in the comment box below this article.)
Hassinger said it took until almost 11 a.m. for traffic to start moving on area roads. He said, it was essentially the same situation across St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties. He said it was "just kind of uniform across the metro area."
There were, however, a few problem spots this morning. Hassinger said Highway 40 around Clayton Road was one, and Highway 40 at the Maryville Center and Mason Road exits was another.
Town and Country police responded to the multiple accidents and major back-ups in that area. Police even closed that stretch of highway twice Thursday morning because cars simply could not get traction due to the snow and ice.
"It was crazy," Town and Country Police Lieutenant Bob Arthur tells Patch. Arthur worked that stretch of Highway 40 all morning, as he and other officers and drivers pushed cars up the hills of the highway. He said the first time the highway shut down was around 6 a. m. and then again around 9:30 a.m.
"It was the same thing, just a sheet of ice," Arthur recalled. "It took a while for state trucks to get there."
"We have some hills there and some trucks and rear-wheel drive cars could not navigate. So that jammed up and once again our trucks could not get there," Hassinger explained.
Arthur said he thinks it was the sudden temperature drop that caused the morning's problems and doesn't believe there was much that could have been done to combat the problems.
"It was just such an instantaneous temperature drop. Instead of taking a couple hours, the bottom just dropped," Arthur said.
He said calls and accidents have leveled off Thursday afternoon, but he is concerned about the evening commute.
"The streets have been treated, but I would anticipate that we may have a repeat of this morning once the sun goes down. Maybe not as severe, but from what I understand, the temperatures are supposed to plummet tonight," Arthur tells Patch. "I'm sure the state is prepared for that."
MoDOT crews will continue working throughout the day with approximately 200 trucks running Road crews are broken into two shifts, so it takes about 500 people to run trucks around the clock, according to MoDOT.