Storm brings awful road conditions to Park City area
Snowplows have difficulty as ice quickly bonds to streets
December 20, 2016
Drivers in Park City last week continued to encounter difficulty with the weather conditions, resulting in another series of slide-off accidents, as snowplow crews dealt with fast-changing conditions that left roads packed with snow or with a layered with ice at various points, officials in the city said.
A series of storms struck the area and there has been ice or snow on many roads at various points in the past two weeks. Intermittent slush, ice and packed snow remains on roads in numerous places. That has resulted in bumpy rides in some locations.
"Roads are really slippery," Phil Kirk, a police captain, said as he described the accidents last week. "It wasn't anything other than that."
Kirk said some of the people involved suffered minor injuries. He said there could be additional accidents as crews continue to clear the roads.
The Park City Streets Department acknowledged the recent storm was difficult to combat as road conditions deteriorated. Troy Dayley, the streets manager for City Hall, said the storm started as rain on Friday at the lower elevations. A cold front arrived on Friday afternoon, dropping temperatures and the snow levels to lower elevations. He said ice then formed on the roads.
Dayley said it takes more road salt to melt ice once it bonds to the road than it does to keep ice off the roads initially.
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"Ice bonded to the street right away," he said, adding, "Once you get ice bonding to the road, it's difficult to remove."
Dayley said Utah Department of Transportation snowplow crews also had difficulty with the conditions on state-controlled roads in Park City, something he said is rare.
By Monday afternoon, Dayley said, primary roads in Park City were free of snow and ice. Packed snow and ice remained on secondary roads, he said. The crews planned to continue snowplowing operations and scraping the road with the plows during daylight hours this week, particularly between noon and 4 p.m.
"It's been a tough storm," Dayley said.
The conditions hindered drivers throughout the Park City area as many vehicles seemed to be driving at speeds below the posted limit at times. One transportation firm, called Fastaxi, turned away calls for five or six hours during the worst of the weather, the owner, Diania Turner, said. Fastaxi is a dispatch service for several taxi and shuttle companies in the area.
"Once a year, if it even happens. It's so rare," Turner said about the conditions.
She said the company has turned away calls perhaps twice in 12 years. The roads were especially bad between Park City and Salt Lake City, drivers relayed to her.
"They told me it was a complete whiteout," she said. "They couldn't get anywhere."
Some of the reported to the Police Department last week included:
Other accidents were reported in the vicinity of the intersection of Iron Horse Drive and Bonanza Drive, westbound U.S. 40 and Marsac Avenue. On Saturday at 10:29 p.m., meanwhile, the police received a report about a jackknifed or otherwise disabled bus on Main Street. The bus apparently created a traffic hazard. Officers, though, did not find the bus on Main Street and planned to search on a nearby street.
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