Icy roads make trouble for motorists

Slick patches cause dozens of accidents

January 09, 2001|By Laura Sullivan and Richard Irwin | Laura Sullivan and Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

Daylong rain and snow quickly turned into ice at nightfall throughout the metropolitan area and in other parts of the state last night, causing several dozen motorists to slide into each other and across lawns, officials said.

No serious injuries were reported.

The icy conditions were expected to remain throughout the early-morning commute, with temperatures hovering in the mid-20s, according to the National Weather Service. Roads are expected to be free of ice by midmorning, forecasters said, when temperatures rise into the 30s and blustery winds help evaporate leftover water.

The ice, which hit back roads in metro area counties the hardest, caused more than a dozen fender-benders within an hour in Baltimore County.

More than 400 State Highway Administration workers spent the night on call, salting the roads in response to complaints, said agency spokeswoman Sandra Dobson. They were expected to work through the night and into the morning.

"It's icing all over the state," Dobson said. "Our biggest concern is for the ramps and bridges, because they always ice up first. The cold air blows underneath and over them, causing them to freeze faster than the roads."

Northwest Baltimore received the most attention from city road crews, with bad road conditions reported in Pimlico, Arlington, Mount Washington, Forest Park, and along West Northern Parkway and Wabash Avenue.

The crews first went out about 4 p.m. when the temperature began to drop and the roads, wet from afternoon rain and snow, became slippery, he said.

Baltimore County police reported icy conditions throughout the county, with a dozen property-damage accidents reported between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

State police at Westminster in Carroll County said that salt trucks hit the roads early yesterday evening and that a few weather-related accidents were reported last night. Ice was reported throughout the Washington area as well. State police at the Golden Ring barracks in Eastern Baltimore County said state and county road crews were spreading salt on Interstates 70, 95 and 695, adding that a few ice-related accidents were reported by early evening.

Harford County road crews also were called out and state police at the Bel Air barracks said a few weather-related accidents were reported.

A survey last night of local convenience stores and food markets showed only a small increase in salt sales. Nick Busch, the night manager at Metro Food Market in Perring Plaza Shopping Center near Carney, said the store had its stash of salt ready for a midnight rush.

"Right now we haven't seen too many people buying salt," Busch said. "But we haven't seen anyone buying ice."

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