TDOT investigates massive backup - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

TDOT investigates massive backup

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Tennessee Department of Transportation officials started their investigation Monday into what caused a massive tie up that closed I-40 near Jackson, Tennessee over the this weekend.
The traffic jam left hundreds of vehicles stranded for hours as a snowstorm turned the highway into an icy mess.
As TDOT crews continued to shovel the shoulders of I-40 Monday, tow truck drivers like Jimmy Ryans continued to pull vehicles that wrecked during the snowstorm.
"This weather just brings good and bad," Ryans said. "Bad for some of the truck drivers, (but) good for the body shops, good for the tow service."

By phone from Nashville, TDOT spokesperson Julie Oaks said an inquiry has been launched into how all of these vehicles got stuck out.

"We will be going back and doing a debriefing on the incident and of course we will be working with TEMA and the highway patrol to debrief and figure out what we can do differently next," Oaks said.

Oaks added there are already plans to implement new TDOT website procedures that would alert drivers to road problems like this.  And because the agency's automated 511 phone system failed to broadcast timely alerts, plans are underway to make it easier for you to hear about road hot spots in the greeting of the voice message you hear when you dial 511.

"If we could have gotten the shoulder open, we may have been able to keep traffic moving a little better," Oaks said.

Officials are also looking into the fact that once the traffic jam started, TDOT help trucks and salt trucks couldn't get through because road shoulders were clogged up.

"When we had the secondary crashes people began pulling off onto the shoulders and to the median, that in turn blocked any lane that our forces could use to get through," Oaks said.

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