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SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2007
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Southbound traffic comes to a halt on U.S. 31 Friday morning as motorists wait on highway crews to finishing sanding the bridges spanning the Tennessee River.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Southbound traffic comes to a halt on U.S. 31 Friday morning as motorists wait on highway crews to finishing sanding the bridges spanning the Tennessee River.

Icy roads cause wrecks in Valley
Spate of weather-related accidents in Limestone County; icy conditions unlikely this weekend

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com
340-2355

ATHENS — Icy patches appeared on roads in much of the Tennessee Valley as temperatures hovered around freezing Friday morning. Slick roads caused many wrecks in Limestone County.

Forecasters don't expect similar problems this weekend.

Unofficial reports from Athens placed the temperature at 27 or 28 degrees shortly after daybreak Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

Captain Marty Bruce said Athens police investigated 17 traffic accidents, all due to icy road conditions. Two people were injured.

State troopers worked at least six weather-related wrecks in surrounding Limestone County between 7:35 a.m. and 8 a.m. No one was injured.

Bruce said five of the accidents in Athens took place on bridges and overpasses. Three were at Hine Street and West Hobbs Street. Police closed southbound traffic on Alabama 251 for about 20 minutes due to an accident on the Interstate 65 overpass.

By 9 a.m., authorities had sanded all bridges and overpasses to make them passable, but Bruce said drivers were still being urged to be careful.

Darnell Spencer, District 1 engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation, which takes care of state, U.S. and interstate highways, said DOT workers treated roadways, including the Tennessee River bridges and overpasses, with calcium magnesium acetate Friday to prevent bridge surfaces from freezing.

Bridges treated

"We also treated a lot of the bridges in Limestone County with sand on some of the state routes up there," he said.

"This time of year, we try to forecast when snow and ice is coming and try to treat them in advance with that CMA mixture. We try to get briefed by the National Weather Service often to make sure we're still abreast of the weather."

The state highway agency reported slick spots throughout Madison, Colbert, Lauderdale, Lawrence and Franklin counties.

Decatur police said they investigated no weather-related wrecks.

Troopers investigated none in Morgan and Lawrence counties. Morgan County road tests for driver licenses were suspended because of the weather.

Huntsville police closed elevated sections of Interstate 565 and Memorial Parkway. Officers stayed busy clearing streets of crashes.

A police car was rear-ended in one of the accidents..

Huntsville police said they worked 77 wrecks resulting from icy conditions, according to news reports.

Robert Boyd, a senior NWS forecaster, said he didn't expect icy roadways today and Sunday, despite overnight lows Friday in the lower 20s and tonight in the mid-20s.

The area shouldn't have enough precipitation, he said.

"(During the day), it should stay above freezing. When the sun comes out, it should melt anything off the roads," Boyd said.

The weekend will remain mostly cloudy. Sunday will warm to a high around 50, with a chance of rain Sunday night.

Boyd said the chance of rain will increase to 50 percent Monday and showers will be likely Monday night.

The temperature will remain above freezing as rain continues through Tuesday, but the temperature dip Tuesday night brings a chance of snow.

"I guess we're finally getting our winter," Boyd said.

The remainder of the week should be cold and dry, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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