Those in charge of keeping our roads clear could use a break. "It's been busy, really busy," said Dave Blackmore with VTrans.
But no such luck this winter. "December hit us pretty hard, pretty much non-stop every day for 26 days out of the month, so that took a lot out of our resources both from the standpoint of material, equipment and people power. So yeah, the troops are getting tired here and weary, but they are still stepping up and going the long distance," Blackmore said.
Overnight Sunday night there was freezing rain. "We had a challenging weekend here with cold temps and then have Mother Nature warm up on us here and dump a lot of rain overnight which started freezing our roads up about 7 p.m. last night. A lot of the drivers and operators came in around 7 p.m. and worked straight though the night," Blackmore said.
Air temperatures warmed up into the 40s Monday morning and the rains came down, washing out parts of Route 7 in Colchester. But temperatures were cooler in southern Vermont, creating slippery roads and causing multiple tractor trailer accidents. Interstate 89 southbound in Grantham, New Hampshire was closed after a tractor trailer slid off the left shoulder to avoid hitting other disabled vehicles.
In Vermont, a crash involving a tractor trailer and SUV shut down Interstate 91 northbound in Weathersfield. Police say the driver of the SUV attempted to pass the truck and lost control. The big rig jack-knifed across the highway, blocking both northbound lanes and causing a long backup of traffic. No injuries were reported. A similar tractor trailer accident later in the morning closed I-91 northbound in Dummerston. In both cases the drivers trying to pass the trucks were issued tickets for traveling too fast for conditions.
And there was a lot of melting. Some roads looked more like ponds because ice chunks blocked storm drains. Officials are keeping an eye on potential ice jams on rivers and the risk of flooding. And they are looking ahead to later Monday night.
"When this rain starts to freeze up we will be seeing the roads become real slippery tonight into tomorrow so we are urging people to stay off the roads. If employers can let people out of work a little earlier today that would be helpful or expect late arrivals tomorrow morning -- people should plan accordingly to and from work and school," said Vermont State Police Sgt. Gary Scott.
And this is just the first week of January -- plenty of winter weather ahead.
Road crews will be out again Monday night. And VTrans officials say all the rules apply -- slow down, don't pass a working snowplow and leave plenty of space between your car and the one ahead of you.
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