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Highway crews prepare for next blow

frozen slush.jpg
Frozen slush made driving hazardous in middle lanes of Capital Beltway on Monday.

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We face several danger points on the roadways in the next 24 hours, Maryland State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen said Monday afternoon.

He said crews are trying to deal with some of the challenges that were obvious to drivers who returned to the highways: Lanes end in snow banks, acceleration and deceleration lanes have disappeared in some places, ice coats some center lanes on the highways, snow banks on the shoulders have frozen solid.

But plows are of limited use in facing these challenges, Pedersen said. Across the state, trucks are treating the bad patches with magnesium chloride. It's more expensive than salt, but it works at lower temperatures.

Heavier equipment -- front end loaders, graders and very large snow blowers -- have come in to bust up the icy patches and hardened snow banks. Drivers are especially likely to encounter them around interchanges, where the plows had a tougher time during weekend operations.

As more and more roadways get down to bare pavement, drivers will speed up. This may be an even more dangerous phase, Pedersen feared, because they still will encounter icy patches and because there will be knots of slow traffic where the heavy equipment is working.

But the crews will press ahead, because they know what's coming Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday: Another big storm will pile up more snow on the highways. If the crews can't get the shoulders cleared from the weekend's worth of snow, they'll have no place to push the next round.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 8, 2010; 3:48 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Weather  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, snowstorm, tips for travelers  
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Magnesium chloride IS salt, as is any other ionic compound commonly found in a crystalline structure. What you mean to say is that Magnesium chloride will be used instead of Sodium chloride.

Posted by: ausemj | February 8, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Why was there still slush on the biggest roads in the region? Is it falling off of the cars whose drivers refuse to clean off before driving?

Posted by: member8 | February 8, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

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