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Roads covered, schools canceled

December 06, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE and CANDAC BOSELY

TRI-STATE AREA - Up to 7 inches of snow fell across the Tri-State region Thursday, giving students a holiday from classes and causing a number of minor accidents across the region.

Although snow had quit falling in most areas by late Thursday, schools in Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia announced they would be closed today, too.

There was no word on schools in Franklin and Fulton counties in Pennsylvania.

In Berkeley County, W.Va., Sgt. Deke Walker of the West Virginia State Police said no major accidents had been reported by Thursday night.


Walker said on his drive into work, he stopped several times to help people, and directed traffic around tractor-trailers stuck on the roads.

"Mostly what we've had today is a lot of drivers sliding off the road," Walker said.

At Berkeley County's Division of Highways Interstate 81 office, Paul Rockwell was taking a break from cleaning up the four- and six-lane interstate.

"It's pretty slippery in places," he said. "We've been trying to keep the main drag clean."

Division of Highways workers in charge of the 26-mile stretch of Interstate 81 in West Virginia put down a mix of salt and gravel. Working a 12-hour shift, Rockwell said he saw several people stuck in ditches and some who had slid off the road, including some tractor-trailers.

Rockwell said too many drivers were not adjusting to road conditions.

"They drive too fast," he said.

At the Division of Highways office for county roads, Acting County Highway Administrator Dwight Wilkins said Thursday afternoon that he and his crew had been focusing on the county's primary roads: W.Va. 45, U.S. 11, W.Va. 51, W.Va. 901 and W.Va. 9. He planned to clean the county's secondary roads later in the evening.

Cleanup was halted for more than an hour when an air hose locked up on one of the county's trucks and needed to be repaired, Wilkins said.

County crews are responsible for more than 500 miles of roadways.

A Pennsylvania State Police spokesman in Chambersburg said there were many fender-benders in Franklin County, but no serious accidents were reported.

PennDOT spokesmen in both Franklin and Fulton counties said snowplow crews were out early Thursday and had the main roads cleared by late afternoon.

William McDowell, assistant manager at PennDOT's Franklin County garage, said most of the main roads were in good shape Thursday afternoon but there was still snow on secondary roadways.

"This storm came a little sooner than we expected in the year, but we take them when we get them," he said.

Washington Township, Pa., highway crews were back in the garage at 4:30 p.m., Township Administrator Michael Christopher said. Main roads were also cleared there by late afternoon, but the smaller roads will have snow on them overnight, he said.

"We left a snow cover on them for traction. Otherwise they'd turn to ice. We covered them with anti-skid material," Christopher said.

All of Washington Townships roads, including those in residential developments, were plowed at least once by the morning drive time, said Jerry Zeigler, the township's zoning enforcement officer.

Hans Bader, chief of the Waynesboro Ambulance Service, said crews there had a quiet day. There had been no accidents and only a few sick calls, he said.

"People must be staying in," he said.

In Martinsburg, W.Va., Capt. Barbara Bartley of the Martinsburg Police Department said a couple of tractor-trailers got stuck, but no major accidents had been reported.

"We're going to keep our fingers crossed," she said.

Bartley said on her drive into work, many people seemed to pay attention to warnings to stay home if possible, leaving the roads somewhat empty.

"It's bad and I had four-wheel drive," Bartley said.

One accident she did note - a plow truck driver clearing the police department's parking lot hit a new cruiser, causing about $500 in damage.

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