Road Crews Continue Battling Mother Nature

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

LINN COUNTY, Iowa – The snow storm may have blown through on Wednesday but the struggle against slippery road conditions isn't over yet.

"It's a tough situation," said Linn County Secondary Road Operations Superintendent Ben Merta.

Taking a trip down the road can be frustrating for road crews.

"All of the loose snow you see on here now, two hours ago wasn't here," Merta said.

The 45 men and women who plow the roads for Linn County have been hard at work, but they're fighting a losing battle against Mother Nature.

"The wind is presenting a major part of the problem," Merta said. "The falling temperatures haven't done us any favors either. Just the combination of the two makes the storm have somewhat of a mind of its own. The guys were out on it all day today (Thursday) and it's a huge improvement over what it was earlier today, but Mother Nature is still moving things around and still wreaking havoc on the system.

Highways and county roads are littered with cars in the ditch. About half a dozen sat in the snow banks on one portion of Interstate 380, including these two semis. As of Thursday evening, the Linn County Sheriff's Office tallied fifty cars in the ditch across the county.

"This is the perfect example of the blowing ... People need to use caution when they're out traveling in these kinds of conditions because road conditions can change so quickly," Merta said.

The Iowa Department of Transportation said its main line of defense is dry salt and sand, but even that is getting blown off the road as winds pick up.

"This particular storm is not one that is going to be solved within 24 hours. We really are going to see some slick conditions continue and continue to reform," said Iowa DOT Transportation Planner Cathy Cutler.

Authorities warn that the blowing snow is sticking to roadways where tires have warmed the surface. That's quickly turning into black ice.

"Then as it gets darker and colder, it will refreeze or blowing snow will refreeze and it will make for unexpected conditions," said Linn County Engineer Steve Gannon.

Road crews are hoping warm temperatures provide some relief, but they know it could be the weekend before the slippery conditions come to an end.
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