ST. LOUIS – The aftermath of a slick night on the roads was on full display from Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX. On eastbound Interstate 70 near St. Louis Airport, we found an SUV on its side. Not far away on Lindbergh, a pair of banged-up vehicles sat on the side of the road.
“This is some of the toughest stuff to treat because it just transitions so fast,” said Tom Blair, St. Louis District Engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Blair’s IDOT counterpart, Joe Monroe, echoes the sentiment.
“Trying to have the right answer at the right time has been the challenge in these events,” Monroe said.
Monroe and Blair are saying the same thing about the same storm. Wet pavement makes pretreatment measures less effective. Mix in a rapid drop in temperature, and you have a dangerous combination impacting road conditions.
“I know the motoring public doesn’t like to hear it, but we’d almost rather be covered everywhere, because it keeps the speeds down and you don’t get those drastic differential collisions,” Monroe said.
“It really made it difficult for us to treat and also made it very difficult for motorists to quickly adapt their driving,” Blair said.
MoDOT is already dealing with manpower issues, but that wasn’t the problem with the recent freeze.
“But the winter weather that we’ve seen over the last few days, they’re not a source of our staffing,” Blair said. “It’s just simply going from wet pavement to frozen pavement that quickly.”
There’s more cold in the forecast overnight, and road crews on both sides of the river are on guard for refreeze.
“We’ve been working 12-hour shifts, we’ll continue to work 12-hour shifts as long as the forecasts and the conditions require us to,” Blair said.
“Really appreciate the motoring public. If you see a plow out there, any plow, don’t crowd it,” Monroe said. “Give it plenty of room. It helps everyone. Not only the men and women behind the plow, but the motoring public as a whole.”
With reminders of what can happen in these dangerous driving conditions scattered across area roadways, care and caution behind the wheel is the name of the game.