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Crashes abound on iced-over roads

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 23. 2018 10:02PM
Wes Bonney of Manchester spreads salt in front of his Lake Avenue home in Manchester on Tuesday morning. Freezing rain overnight made road conditions treacherous with hundreds of school delays being called. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Light freezing rain iced up roads, making driving around the Granite State treacherous and causing many accidents.

Manchester police said icy conditions contributed to 110 car crashes between 8 p.m. Monday and 12:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Many school districts, including Manchester, delayed opening for two hours Tuesday.

In Laconia, icy roads were blamed for an accident involving a police cruiser just after midnight Monday.

Police said an officer was investigating an accident on Province Street when a small pick-up truck hit the cruiser.

There were several accidents on the F.E. Everett Turnpike in Nashua, with other crashes reported in Deerfield, Brookline, Bedford and Sanbornton.

Kevin Sheppard, director of Manchester’s Department of Public Works, said at least three salt trucks were involved in minor traffic accidents, but no injuries were reported.

“It was treacherous for everybody, including our salt trucks out there,” he said. City crews were out salting roads starting around 6 p.m. Monday, Sheppard said. When reports of deteriorating road conditions began coming in, calls for additional crews went out around 7:30 p.m. All trucks were deployed on de-icing operations by 8:30 p.m. Monday, Sheppard said.

”We expected temperatures to be rising and they didn’t,” Sheppard said.

Salt was melting the ice, but the rain washed away the salt, he said.

“With the cold temperatures and the rain, the roads were refreezing,” Sheppard said. “We were continuing to hit the same roads (with more salt).”

Citizen complaints

Dozens of Manchester residents took to social media to complain about the icy condition of roads near their homes.

Sheppard said city trucks would be out Tuesday night addressing complaints called in by residents, with additional trucks expected to be deployed at 4 a.m. this morning.

Sidewalk tractors were to be sent out to clear downtown and school sidewalks at 4 a.m. today.

“We’re monitoring conditions throughout the day, and if the weather or road conditions warrant additional equipment, they will be called in,” Sheppard said Tuesday night.

“Despite difficult weather conditions, our crews have worked hard to keep our roads safe and passable,” said Mayor Joyce Craig in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon. “Rain, coupled with freezing temperatures, meant the salt distributed on the roadways was getting washed away, causing the roads to re-freeze. Multiple road treatments were necessary to ensure the ice was completely melting.”

Corning Road was closed near the Bodwell Road intersection after icing brought down wires during Tuesday's storm in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Sheppard said he was proud of the job his employees did. “Similar road conditions were reported in communities across the state,” said Sheppard. “The icy conditions were not unique to Manchester.”

“I’m satisfied with the response of our public works department,” Craig said in a phone interview Tuesday night. She said — as with every weather-related event — she and Sheppard will review his department’s response to see “if anything can be done better.”

Windy Wednesday

Today is forecast to be sunny and windy, with a temperature of about 35 degrees, the National Weather Service said.

“It will be gusty, so if there is any ice left on the trees Wednesday, we could see scattered power outages caused by falling tree limbs,” said Michael Ekster, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

Ekster said it will be “cold but clear” the rest of the work week, with the next chance for precipitation coming in the form of possible rain showers Sunday afternoon into Monday.

New Hampshire Union Leader staff reporter Michael Cousineau contributed to this story.

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