Road crews prepare for black ice

By: Mike McCarthy Email
By: Mike McCarthy Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It's not snow, but ice that could be a problem for East Tennessee drivers during their Wednesday morning commute.

High winds may not help either.

"The temperature is already dropping. With all the moisture on the roads, it's a real threat," Knox County's Director of Public Works & Engineering Bruce Wuethrich said.

Rain soaked the region much of Tuesday, leaving roads sopping wet on a night when temperatures are predicted to fall well-below freezing.

"Ice is the biggest problem. We can't maneuver in it. You can't scrape it off the roads, the only thing you can do with ice is put salt on it," Wuethrich said.

Icy roads wreaked havoc across Knoxville in January 2008, when black ice blanketed roadways during rush-hour, causing hundreds of crashes.

Knox County, TDOT, and the City of Knoxville are stocked with stock after the last winter blast, crews told Volunteer TV.

Wuethrich says the county has one a salt truck fully loaded and others ready to roll.

Unlike past storms, no crews in Knoxville pre-treated any roads.

"It would probably just wash away if we did pre-treat," Ben Price with TDOT said.

TDOT put than 200 salt trucks on the road across the 24 counties in Region One after 9:00pm Tuesday night.

Crews will monitor the situation throughout the night, treating roads as needed.

And they have a warning for drivers.

"If you see sleet or freezing rain, just slow way down. We don't get that perception of danger with it like with snow, but the danger is definitely there," Price said.

Drivers Volunteer TV talked to already planned to take precautions.

"If it's icy, then I won't go to work." driver Rosa Loy said. "I don't make enough money to pay my deductible."

"Probably just get up a little earlier, drive slow and keep it safe," driver Austin Buckner said.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory starting at midnight Tuesday, which includes with gusts up to 55 miles-per-hour.

Wuethrich says the wind and the rain-soak soil could topple trees across Knox County, adding additional road concerns.


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