Columbia, Midlands bridges, overpasses slick with ice

jmonk@thestate.comFebruary 13, 2014 

— As dawn broke Thursday across a misty, frozen tundra-like Midlands, officials were still warning motorists not to venture out.

A light drizzle fell in some areas, and people who walked on the frozen snow found the crust could hold their weight. As the day goes on, and temperatures rise above freezing, it will likely turn to slush. Walking on the frozen snow, with its thin ice glaze, could be extremely slippery.

Some 7,550 people in Lexington County had power outages, while about 2,500 in Richland County were without electricity, SCE&G reported.

“The road might be passable for a short distance, but then you can hit an icy patch,” said Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. David Jones, out since the early morning hours.

Many primary roads are passable, but bridges and overpasses are likely slick with ice, he said.

“In a matter of minutes, about 5 a.m., we had three wrecks on I-26 near U.S. 1 in West Columbia when people hit an icy patch on a bridge,” Jones said.

“People are starting out slowly, getting a little overconfident, picking up speed and then they spin out of control,” he said.

“Don’t drive unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Fallen trees that could block roads and even hit cars pose another hazard, he said.

“About 6 a.m., a trooper had to remove a tree in the road in Lexington,” Jones said. “As the day goes on, that might get worse.”

Motorists will find conditions vary greatly from county to county.

A 4 a.m. release from the state Department of Transportation said most counties, with the exception of coastal areas, are reporting that roads and bridges are covered with snow and ice.

Some 1,265 DOT workers continue to prowl the state’s roadways, laying down road-clearing materials. So far, they have put down 11,623 tons of salt, 4,204 tons of sand and more than a million gallons of salt brine.

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