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Road conditions slowly improving

By William F. West

The Daily Advance

1 Comment | Leave a Comment

Life after Tuesday’s big snowstorm slowly began returning to normal on Thursday, as most major roadways in the Elizabeth City area were cleared of snow and many residents cautiously began returning to work.

U.S. Highway 17 in the Elizabeth City area is now clear and dry, but patches of snow and ice remain, Pasquotank-Camden-Elizabeth City emergency management officials said. While motorists were able to drive on secondary roads on Thursday, many are still packed with snow and ice and remain hazardous for travel, officials said.

Motorists are also advised to continue to exercising caution when approaching bridges and overpasses.

City Manager Rich Olson said the city’s main thoroughfares are in good shape following work by private road-grading companies, but city crews will be out again today putting down salt and sand on icy spots.

As evidence of the improving road conditions, the state of emergency lifted for Elizabeth City, Pasquotank and Camden counties was lifted as of 5 p.m. on Thursday. The emergency operations center set up in Pasquotank to monitor the storm also closed Thursday afternoon.

A number of city and county offices also made plans to reopen today. Municipal offices in Elizabeth City, Edenton and Perquimans County reopened at 8 a.m., while county offices in Pasquotank, Camden, Chowan and Currituck planned to reopen after a two-hour delay.

The Pasquotank County landfill and recycling centers planned to be open at 9 a.m. today. In addition, a civil court session in Pasquotank was scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

Mid-Atlantic Christian University planned to operate on a normal schedule today. Elizabeth City State University planned to operate on a delayed schedule, starting classes at 10 a.m.

Not everything was back to normal, however. All public school districts in the region are closed today for a third straight day. Albemarle School is also closed today as is College of The Albemarle.

In Camden County, Sheriff Tony Perry said U.S. 17 is clear, U.S. 158 is mostly clear and N.C. Highway 343 is mostly clear north of the courthouse. South of the courthouse, N.C. 343 remains icy, Perry said. In addition, all secondary roads in Camden are still covered in ice.

Jarvis Winslow, Perquimans County Emergency Management coordinator, said U.S. 17 and N.C. Highway 37 are in good shape and that N.C. Department of Transportation had started removing snow from secondary roads.

Winslow said the secondary roads in Perquimans remain clogged with snow and ice, but he hoped with temperatures rising today — highs across the region are expected to hit 47 — the roads will be in much better shape by tonight.

Winslow noted that local farmers and other private citizens have helped clear some roadways, using tractors and other equipment.

In Currituck County, Sheriff Susan Johnson said road conditions are also improving. She credited DOT with doing an excellent job on the main routes through the county. She, too, said DOT crews will be working today to clear secondary roads in the county.

DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Garifo said the agency’s maintenance crews across the region spent all day Wednesday plowing up snow and spreading salt and sand on all four-lane routes. Those routes are mostly clear of snow, but she cautioned motorists to continue to watch out for “black ice” when traveling.

So far, most motorists have been driving cautiously. A number of vehicles continued to slide off roadways into ditches on Thursday, but no major traffic accidents were reported.

As of Thursday, DOT crews have applied 900 tons of salt to de-snow and de-ice area roadways, Garifo said. DOT estimates it has enough salt to complete its work clearing two-lane primary roads and secondary roads, she said.

DOT’s 111 trucks and 27 motor graders in Division 1 have been busy throughout the storm and its aftermath. Assisting them this week have been 20 trucks from DOT maintenance offices in the Triad and western Piedmont, Garifo said. They plan to stay in the region through Saturday morning.

Social media has been an important tool in getting word about road conditions.

Julie Stamper, Geographic Information System coordinator for Pasquotank, said county emergency management officials have been receiving many positive comments about pictures on the county’s Facebook page showing road conditions.

“And that’s making them stay home,” she said.

Comments

NCDOT response lacking

I know budgets are tight, but these 2 recent snows have produced much evidence that NCDOT in this area is falling well short of properly and effectively prepping or clearing both major and secondary roads before and after these snows. During this most recent snow, in my area, I have not seen a NCDOT vehicle road prepping or clearing any of the 6 roads within sight of my home. Elizabeth City Public Works has done a better job of clearing city streets and intersections than NCDOT has with state roads. Looks like city residents are getting more for their tax dollars than country folks this go around!

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