Arkansas lawmakers hold hearing on icy traffic jam - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Arkansas lawmakers hold hearing on icy traffic jam

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(WMC-TV) – The massive traffic jam in Arkansas that had drivers trapped on icy highways for hours, even days, will be the focus of a 2-day hearing that kicks off Tuesday. Lawmakers want answers so a gridlock doesn't happen again.

Members of the Arkansas Highway Commission will sit in the hot seat to answer questions about what went wrong and why Interstates 40 and 55 in east Arkansas weren't ready to handle all the ice.

According to Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department spokesperson Danny Straessle, the fast falling sleet, accidents, and construction zones combined for a perfect storm.

He said crews pre-treated bridges and over passes before the winter storm, but the rain washed most of the solution away. The sub-freezing temperatures didn't help once the mercury fell below 22 degrees.

The National Guard was called in to pass out food, water and supplies to the thousands of drivers who paid the price, living out of their vehicles for hours, some even days.

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe called the situation unacceptable and said it cannot happen again.

Tuesday's hearing will be a start in finding out what leaders and highway crews should do in the future to avoid such a mess. The hearing is expected to wrap up Wednesday.

The Highway Commission will also hold a special meeting this week to come up with solutions.

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