Crews Working Toward Safe Commute Across Bridges - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Crews Working Toward Safe Commute Across Bridges

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With a big drop in temperature in the forecast comes the concern of big problems on area bridges. We've already seen them several times this season, multi-car crashes during the morning commute. Something crews we talked to are working to prevent.

Police blame black ice and a driver illegally changing lanes for a chain-reaction crash on the I-74 Bridge Monday morning. 31 cars were involved. Dustin Cable's was one of them. "It was over before I had time to be scared. It was just crazy," he told us then. It was demolition derby turned parking lot that sent 12 people to area hospitals and left many more stuck in traffic for more than an hour.

Ashley Moore was also on the bridge. She told us, "I would like to see IDOT do something about the condition because it happens around here when it gets cold, ice... especially on the bridge it's so dangerous." The Iowa Department of Transportation is responsible for Interstate 74. The Illinois DOT oversees Centennial, where on a sub-zero morning last month, we saw seven accidents in just two hours.

John Hart is the Assistant State Maintenance Engineer with the Iowa DOT. He says, "Each storm is unique, and conditions are unique for the way that storms move in." Monday morning's cold followed a clear Sunday. The snow fell on Saturday. But we're going into Thursday with less than 24 hours without snowfall. Less time for crews to clear city streets. More of a chance for cars to pick up moisture from roads and track it onto the bridge, where it could freeze.

"So we really have to monitor the situation," Hart says. And then based on what we're seeing with pavement temperatures and ambient temperatures, then we'll treat accordingly." At this point, no word on what that treatment is. On Monday, Clive Tobey, at the maintenance garage, said crews checked the bridge first thing and it was fine, so they didn't pre-treat. Half an hour later, many drivers saw chaos.

Wednesday, Fred Thiedy told us crews would be out until midnight, then back on the roads and the bridge at 4 am, checking conditions. What they find determines what's next. Hart says, "We're doing everything we can within the limitations of the temperatures and what the materials will do for us." Right now, temperatures have them ruling out salt and brine. But sand, and of course ice blades on plows, could be options.

On the Centennial Bridge, Davenport Police Captain Paul Sikorski tells us officers with his department and Rock Island's will be monitoring the road all night, ready to reach out to the state if necessary.

Meantime, everyone we talked to says drivers can help with safety in winter conditions as well. Slow down, buckle up and don't engage your cruise control. Important Iowa DOT reps say, because more drivers than ever are rear-ending snowplows this season.