JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Cole County Public Works crews will work an overnight shift New Year's Eve to treat potential icy road conditions.
Bryan Boyce, Cole County's road superintendent, said crews will start pretreatment of roads at 10 p.m. and monitor the roads throughout the night.
“We’re going to be staying throughout the night. Our road crews are going to be reporting in at 10 and we’re going to stay until all of our roads are clear and passible and safe to drive on,” Boyce said.
Boyce said if crews were to put pretreatment on the roads in the early afternoon there is a possibility it could rain hard enough this evening to wash away the pretreatment.
Forecasters are calling for ice to start late Thursday night in Mid-Missouri and continue into the day on Friday. Temperatures could remain in the freezing range throughout Friday morning as precipitation continues to fall.
The ABC 17 News Stormtrack Weather team has issued a Weather Alert Day because of the expected ice.
“If we were to go out a pretreat with a salt right now the rain would likely wash that off if the rain was hard enough," Boyce said. "One of the things that we have found out of course through trial and error over the years when you get a little bit of moisture on the roads the salt will actually stick to it a little bit better."
Cole County road crews will monitor the roads throughout the night and will respond immediately if the weather gets worse overnight. Boyce said the goal is to keep the roads from freezing in the first place.
"With temperatures where they’re at the pretreatment is just going to be to basically create a bridge between the ice that’s falling or the rain that’s falling, that’s going to freeze on contact, we’re going to try to prohibit that from happening so to speak, but then we’re going to just keep an eye on things and if anything starts to freeze up we’ll be able to respond to it immediately,” Boyce said.
Boyce and Eric Landwehr, the director of Cole County Public Works, said the department's concern is the threat of ice on the roads. Slight swings in the forecast could make big differences on the roads, Landwehr said.
"We’re just right on that edge -- if it turns for the worse we’ll be prepared for it,” Landwehr said.
Landwehr said he recommends people to stay home on New Year's Eve, as "ice is nothing you want to mess around with". Even four-wheel-drive vehicles can slide easily on ice, Landwehr said. He said if people stay off of the roads it makes the work of the road crews a lot easier.
"Ice is no joke and it becomes a completely different challenge from snow," Boyce said. "We can plow snow off, we can keep adding salt to it, but when it comes to ice we have to melt it, so it’s a different ball game and there’s no traction whatsoever with ice, so the best advice we can give is just to stay home.”
MoDOT will also have crews out pretreating trouble areas around central Missouri. Paul Denkler, MoDOT's Central District Assistant Maintenance Engineer, said, "We will have crews coming in this evening starting at 6:30 and those crews will be out and about just tracing in advance any elevated surfaces, bridges and areas that are low lying or in shade where the pavement temperatures may be lower. Any trouble areas that we know we’ll be treating those areas in advance of the storm.”
Denkler said MoDOT urges people to stay home and stay off of the roads and to use caution when driving. "If you are out, give our trucks plenty of room. It’s always going to be a better road condition behind the plow than in front of the plow, so let the guys get out there give them plenty of room to do their work. If someone is involved in a slide off, our advice is the safest place for them to stay is in their vehicle until help can arrive.”
The City of Columbia plans to send crews out around 7 p.m. to complete pretreatment of some main roads before the freezing precipitation begins.
Richard Stone, the Engineering and Operations Manager for City of Columbia Public Works, said, "We do anticipate some combination of ice, rain, freezing rain, snow overnight so conditions are going to be slick as the evening progresses pavement temperatures will probably fall below freezings sometime late evening probably before midnight, so we encourage people if we can please stay at home. It is going to be widespread slickness across the entire community.”
Jefferson City pretreated their roads in the early afternoon of Thursday. Britt Smith, the Operations Division Director for the Jefferson City Public Works Department, said they've fully loaded trucks and a crew will be out throughout the night monitoring road conditions. Smith says the Jefferson City Police Department will also help to monitor the roads for icy conditions.
Smith urges for those who plan on driving somewhere to celebrate the New Year holiday to reevaluate plans and stay home. "The current forecast is for that freezing precipitation to start about midnight, so if people are out and to a party of with friends or local establishment to wait for that New Year then head home they could be right in the time that it’s going to be dangerous. We ask people to use extra caution, re evaluate that trip whether you really need to make that trip and give us some time to get the roads in as good as shape and of course always increase your following distance if you do have to be out there on the road.”
Smith says if someone has to drive in these conditions to use extreme caution as ice is hard to see while driving and cars slide on the ice easily. “Again slow down that’s number one again increase that following distance, make sure that you’re not right up behind somebody so that you have ample time to make that stop, but my most important advice is really truly evaluate that trip and decide whether you really need to be out.”