Dozens of MoDOT trucks involved in crashes during ice storm

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Treating icy roads isn’t easy, but when the storm effects the entire state, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Director Patrick McKenna said it becomes that much harder. 

Department-wide, MoDOT vehicles were involved in more than 35 crashes Monday, which tells the story of how difficult it is to drive on ice. 

“We had dozens of our own equipment slide off the roads into ditches, even with chains on the trucks,” McKenna said. “Even with heavy emergency equipment, even with professional operators that are trained, you can get into a bad situation very quickly. 

While it was a snow day for Missouri lawmakers, some state departments spent Monday working overtime. 

“It’s really hard to stay ahead of and when there is precipitation that is pretty much blanketing the entire state, we’re just 1,500 pieces of equipment on 34,000 miles of road,” McKenna said. 

Unlike snow, McKenna said ice is unpredictable, like in southwest Missouri, where the department had 13 equipment vehicles slide off the roadway. 

“Because we had such cold weather leading up to this, even in areas where it had gotten a little warmer, the ground was cold so when the precipitation hit, it flash froze,” McKenna said. 

In the St. Louis area, a scary scene occurred in a subdivision as a fire truck was seen spinning out of control Monday morning, nearly slamming into a home. The Rock Community Fire Protection District from Jefferson County was responding to a crash in the neighborhood when the fire truck lost traction on the slick, sloping road and turned a full 360 degrees before clipping a parked car. 

In most cases, McKenna said MoDOT is using a brine mix, which is a combination of beet juice, sugar and salt. That mixture, he said, sticks to the pavement instead of bouncing off like salt. 

Fire truck slides, spins on ice in Jefferson County subdivision, nearly slams into house

“We were in pretty good shape heading into this storm with materials, but this is a pretty material-intensive storm,” McKenna said. “Many thousands and tons of salt and many thousands of gallons of brine were being used.”

McKenna said the department is short roughly 700 workers. Normally, MoDOT sends crews to different districts depending on where the precipitation is but not for this storm since this ice event was statewide. 

“Just really a note of thanks to the public because people did heed the warnings and we really do appreciate it,” McKenna said. “It makes it much easier for us to do our job when there’s not as much traffic out there.”

During last night’s shift switch, McKenna said some crew members weren’t able to leave their shift because employees couldn’t leave their homes to come into work. 

“We actually had people getting picked up by our crews to help relieve the crews because a lot of people couldn’t get out of their subdivisions,” McKenna said. 

Of the three dozen crashes involving MoDOT vehicles, McKenna said there were a handful of non-serious injuries. He also said there were a few injuries involving crew members slipping on the ice while preparing the trucks to be in service. 

The department is warning drivers of possible black ice overnight and into the morning commute. 


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