Icy roads a nightmare for Mid-South drivers

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Icy conditions created a nightmare on Mid-South roads Friday, and now the concern turns to an overnight re-freeze which could cause road conditions to deteriorate further.

"Tonight, as the traffic lessens, it will have a more potential to freeze back, so we will have crews on the scene until the problem is solved," said Ed Johnson, Assistant Transportation Management Center for Tennessee Department of Transportation. "The sooner we get the salt out there the better the roads are going to be."

Since 3 a.m. Friday, Memphis Police Department was called to a total of 194 crashes.

"Man, hectic. Wrecks everywhere," Joe MacIntyre with DTS Towing said. He said one of the major problems is people are driving too fast.

Every major interstate was left impacted by the winter weather, which began as sleet and turned into snow, leaving the roads a slippery rink.

TDOT officials said they were unable to prep the roads ahead of time because of rainfall on Thursday, but they managed to get a small layer of salt between the rain and freezing rain.

City of Memphis tweeted that they will run salt and sand trucks continuously for at least 24 hours. The city said they would not deploy their limited plows and scrapers since those are more effective in the snow and roads are mostly covered in ice. Officials said if the put the plows low enough to scrape ice, it will end up damaging the roads.

However, TDOT said they have deployed their plows and may do more plowing throughout the day.

TDOT spokeswoman Nicole Lawrence advised drivers to slow down if they absolutely have to go on the roads.

"Take your time, make sure to leave plenty of time for you to get to your destination, and make sure there's space between you and any other vehicles around you," Lawrence said. "We have done all we can do thus far in the daylight hours. Ice proposes a bit of a challenge for us especially with the low temperatures and we just have to kind of sometimes let it lay and then go back in the morning."

TDOT officials said they expect a re-freeze to occur and will prepare for such.

At the corner of East Shelby Drive and Swinnea Road, as many as 20 vehicles came to a halt in the middle of the intersection, unable to move.

"Right now I'm kind of frustrated. I'm trying to get out this cold," driver Reggie Zinn said. He was one of dozens of drivers inconvenienced by the icy roads on East Shelby Drive.

Some people said they got stuck on Union Avenue for 30 minutes because of the ice.

"You got to be careful, man. You don't want to have to give us a call, but if you do DTS," MacIntyre said, laughing.

City officials and MPD are urging people that if you don't have anywhere critical to go, just stay home where it's safe and warm.

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