INVESTIGATION: How IL-DOT Responded To Icy Centennial Bridge - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

INVESTIGATION: How IL-DOT Responded To Icy Centennial Bridge

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We have new information on what led to multiple accidents on the Centennial Bridge. There were seven between 5:30 AM and 7:30 AM yesterday morning. Could they have been avoided?

Yesterday we were given conflicting and incomplete information on how our bridges our maintained in winter weather. So we are pushing for more.

We were first told salt does not work when it is as cold as it was yesterday morning, but it doesn't end there. When was the last time the centennial was checked before the morning accidents?

IL-DOT said Centennial Bridge was dry and they had already cleared ice and snow. Conditions were clear. This was from late Monday night into Tuesday morning before the accidents started happening. 

But after that is when cars started slipping on ice. 

At that point IL-DOT said that the bridge had not been pre-treated with sand or grit. They wait until they get reports in. 

"When a bridge is dry already, we get our information from police agencies that may respond to an incident or an accident or we do have assigned routes for our trucks and as they pass over, they may realize that it has refrozen and then they will respond accordingly," said Trisha Thompson Operations Engineer for District 2 IL-DOT. "But, you know, it's just a matter of whether our trucks passes over it again and realizes that. They have very long routes. They could be 40 miles long or whether it's a police agency that responds to an accident and then gives us that information."

So despite an accident the night before it appears nothing was done about the icy conditions between that time and the morning rush hour until cars started piling up.

Where were the snow plows and trucks when the accidents started happening Tuesday morning?

IL-DOT said that they don't always know where each truck is at a given time or at certain times there are no trucks on the roads. 

However, Thompson said there were trucks out patrolling. She said crews could have been focused along more rural routes where there was heavy snow drifting.

"What happens is that also caught us in the middle of our shift change which is at 7 AM," said Thompson. "The previous shift goes back to the yard, refuels, gets their trucks ready for the next shift. and that shift reports in at 7 AM and then they get into their trucks and head out to their routes. There is a period of time where there's nobody out on the roads. I mean that's just a fact, it has to happen as we go between shifts."

Thompson said if they need to add sand to a certain area they do so if they can tell it will be an on going problem. They don't pre-treat any roadways or bridges with sand even if they know salt will not work in extreme cold temperatures.

This is because she said they don't have large stockpiles of sand and grit, so they can't lay it on all roadways. They only use it when they know there have been reports of ice. 

"I understand that there were several accidents up there, but we did not do anything different that we have done for years or would do for any other storm," said Thompson. "So I'd just like you to know we responded as what we feel appropriate, what the department would normally do."