The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 17, 2013

City, county crews ready to spread sand for safety

By Jean Cole

— City and county road crews are prepared as possible for sleet, ice or snow, officials said Thursday.

As sleet was falling and schools and colleges were closing early Thursday in Athens and Limestone County, Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee told The News Courier county maintenance trucks have motor-graders and spreaders to disperse sand on bridges and hills to try to prevent motorists from sliding.

“That is needed more in western Limestone County, where there are hills and low-lying areas that freeze,” he said.

Menefee said he had talked to county workers early Thursday and was told they were as prepared as possible be for ice or snow.

Meanwhile, in the city of Athens, Public Works Director James Rich said the city has two sand trucks and a motor-grader as well as escort vehicles for the spreaders.

“These trucks are loaded and ready to go, and we are monitoring streets to see if they need to be sanded before dark,” Rich said. “If it become slick after they are sanded, we will be out to keep them safe.”

He said workers would monitor the roads about every hour to determine when to lay down sand.

“We have to put it on in the right sequence,” he said. “We don’t want to put it down if it is raining because it will wash away.”

Cities and counties in the South typically use sand to combat ice. They usually do not buy snowplows because they are not commonly needed.

Rich told City Council members Monday that city workers also sand entrances to the police and fire stations and hospital.

Rich reminded motorists to stay home if roads are icing, noting that emergency workers will be using the roads and that four workers with the Alabama Department of Transportation were injured Wednesday morning when a semi-trailer truck struck them.

Elsewhere in North Alabama on Thursday afternoon, snow was accumulating in Tuscaloosa and snowfall was evident in Huntsville and Florence.

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, snow was falling in counties surrounding Limestone County but not in Limestone. Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson said at 1 p.m. Thursday police had, so far, not received any reports of weather-related wrecks. Slippery roads contributed to an accident at the intersection of U.S. 72 and East Limestone Road about 9 a.m. Thursday. Injuries were reported but state troopers had not yet filed their reports at press time due to back-to-back accidents Thursday.