Closure irks commuters on Interstate 80
Snow that fell on and off throughout the day Tuesday wreaked havoc on motorists’ morning and afternoon commutes as a portion of westbound Interstate 80 near Parleys Summit closed so crews could clear snow-packed roads.
"I know it’s just snowing like hell," Summit County Public Works Superintendent Mark Offret said Tuesday afternoon. "It’s not backing off much over there." After returning to his office in Hoytsville from Kimball Junction, Offret said "snow-packed and scary" highways in western Summit County caused many drivers to slide of the road. "There are slide-offs, and people bumping and crashing down Silver Creek Canyon and over on [U.S. 40] and all up and down I-80," Offret said. "There are several cars off in the ditch and people just aren’t slowing down it’s a bad one."
Westbound Interstate 80 closed near Jeremy Ranch for more than an hour around 10:15 a.m. after semi-trucks began to spin out on the slick road, Utah Department of Transportation maintenance supervisor Todd Richins said, adding that truckers were required to chain their tires before attempting to pass over the summit. "[I-80] was closed this morning for snow removal," UDOT spokesman Brent Wilhite said. Slow traffic on both sides of the interstate impeded snow removal as snowplow operators slowed to avoid other vehicles, he added.
"It’s not very common, except when there are high levels of traffic," Wilhite said about the closure. "If the snowplows can’t drive at a fast enough speed to throw the snow far from the roadway, then, often times the snow just goes right to the shoulders and blows right back on the road."
He wasn’t sure whether additional road closures were expected Tuesday evening in Summit County. Meanwhile, several weeks ago UDOT began repairing potholes in Parleys Canyon on both sides of Interstate 80 near Salt Lake City. "The weather turned cold on us too soon and we weren’t able to finish all three lanes," said Wilhite, who added that crews are still working on the far right lanes on each side of the interstate. "We’re in a bit of a bind here because we can’t pave asphalt because of the cold weather and the snow." — Patrick Parkinson
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