NCDOT urges caution
N.C. Department of Transportation crews continue to respond to the winter storm, which is having varying impacts not only in different regions of the state, but also within parts of the same county. Motorists are reminded to allow plenty of room for NCDOT trucks to plow and spread salt and sand.
Interstates and most primary roads are clear, but motorists need to be on the lookout for possible icy spots, especially on bridges and overpasses. Many secondary roads remain hazardous. Any snow or ice that melts over the next few days is expected to refreeze overnight, causing seemingly clear roads to be covered by a dangerous layer of nearly invisible black ice.
Ice is the biggest challenge crews are facing. The approach to clearing ice versus snow is different. Snow is relatively easy to plow off the roads. With ice, however, the blade of the plow cannot get under the ice to push it, and instead skims over the top of the ice. Crews use a mixture of salt and sand to provide traction and break down the ice into slush, which the plow can then push off the road. Additionally, temperatures around 20 degrees reduce the effectiveness of salt.
NCDOT has budgeted $30 million for snow and ice removal this fiscal year. It has spent $26.2 million, as of Jan. 7. If extra money is required, it will be drawn from the general maintenance budget.
Citizens can obtain travel information in several ways. They can call 511, the state's toll free information line. They can also visit the NCDOT Traveler Information Web Site at http://www.ncdot.gov/traffictravel.
NCDOT also offers travel information on Twitter, where citizens can get travel updates, or tweets, for 16 different routes or regions of the state by signing up at http://www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter. Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. To access it, type "m.ncdot.gov" into the browser of your smart phone. Then, bookmark it to save for future reference. NCDOT Mobile is compatible with the iPhone, Android, and some newer Blackberry phones.