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'Stay home'

Crews clearing roads; sleet may worsen travel

Crews clearing roads; sleet may worsen travel

January 26, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

With lots of plowing left to do and the accumulating snow not yet melting, transportation officials are asking people to stay off the roads.

"Stay home," Washington County Highway Department Director Ted Wolford said this morning.

Having more traffic on the streets could help speed up the melting process, but Hagerstown Public Works Manager Eric Deike said people should stay off the roads if they can.

"It gives us a chance to get things cleaned up," Deike said.

Secondly, if you are shoveling snow, don't throw it into the street, Deike said.

Besides being against city law, throwing snow back into the road makes plow drivers' jobs more difficult, Deike said.

Local road crews have been plowing all night and expect to continue throughout the day, transportation officials said.

"The streets are OK, but the cold temperatures are certainly making it harder," Deike said. "Every bit of snow that falls, none of it's melting."

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With 7 inches on Saturday and another 7 inches on top of that, the snow is getting harder to push or put someplace, Deike said. City officials have begun discussing the possibility of hauling snow away from downtown Hagerstown's streets, he said.

"Everybody's getting a little bit tired after two weeks of snow," Deike said.

City crews focused on main streets such as The Terrace, Oak Hill Avenue, Virginia Avenue, Wilson Boulevard, Burhans Boulevard, Wesel Boulevard, Garland Groh Boulevard and Washington, Franklin, Potomac, Prospect and Mulberry streets, Deike said.

They have been focusing on getting the main streets clear for fire and rescue vehicles, Deike said. That included helping firefighters plow near fire halls.

This morning, crews were working on residential streets and some subdivisions in the county, Deike and Wolford said.

The county roads should be in good shape unless the area gets the sleet that is forecast later, Wolford said.

Traffic on local roads was slow this morning with many cars and trucks sliding around in the thick snow.

Traffic on the highways also was slow as there was little blacktop showing, said John Wright, assistant resident maintenance engineer for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

"Our roadways are about 80 percent covered with snow," Wright said around 9 a.m.

All the roads had been plowed and the ramps have periodically been plowed, but they could still have heavy snow so people should slow down when approaching the ramps to the interstates, Wright said.

"We're just asking everybody to drive with caution," Wright said.

After much of the snow was plowed off main roads, crews started adding salt or a salt and stone mixture, transportation officials said.

Wolford said he was expecting more salt to arrive Tuesday, while Deike said he ordered another 500 tons this morning that should arrive by Wednesday.

County Commuter buses started two hours late this morning, but were running all routes, said Kevin Cerrone, the county's public transportation director.

Some apartment complexes' roads had not been plowed so buses were not able to make it into those areas, Cerrone said. If people know the bus usually drives into their apartment complex, they can walk to the main road to pick up the bus, he said.

Flights were arriving and departing from Hagerstown Regional Airport within a reasonable amount of time, Manager Carolyn Motz said.

The only power outage Allegheny Energy reported this morning affected nine customers in the Williamsport area where wires were reported down shortly before 9 a.m., spokeswoman Debra Beck said. Crews were working to restore power.

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