Roads

A bicycle commuter.
Heb / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycling_in_Copenhagen#/media/File:Copenhagen_cycle_chic.jpg

North Carolina's "Share the Road" signs and "sharrows" on the pavement are confusing to many motorists.

That's according  North Carolina State University researchers George Hess and Nils Petersen. Their study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, reports that language is ambiguous and does not reflect state law.

A picture of a pothole.
NCDOT

State road crews are working to repair potholes that were caused by another icy winter. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is asking residents to report potholes so they can be repaired quickly.

NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott says potholes are bad for vehicles, threatening tires and alignment, and they make for dangerous driving conditions.

A picture of black ice outside WUNC.
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

Whether your road has been plowed or not, you might want to think twice before heading out today, and to be really careful if you do. There's black ice everywhere.

(I took a spill in the parking lot just outside our studios, which was plowed yesterday.)  

After clearing main roadways of the heavy snow yesterday, the North Carolina Department of Transportation Department plows will hit neighborhoods today.  

But NCDOT Spokesman Steve Abbott warns that black ice will make driving risky throughout the morning.

A picture of a school bus in the snow.
schoolbusdriver.org

Winter weather prompted many schools to close across central North Carolina today. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools made that call later than others. 

Classes at Chapel Hill-Carrboro high schools were canceled today, but not before elementary and middle school students got to their desks.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

The storm has passed, and Governor Pat McCrory has lifted the State of Emergency issued  earlier this week.

Last night, he thanked North Carolinians for staying off the roads yesterday. But he warned this week's winter weather isn't over.

The National Weather Service forecasts record lows tonight and tomorrow night.

"It's literally getting down to zero degrees and we could be in some very dangerous situations, so I do ask all counties to reassess their shelter needs, not because of the snow situation, but because of the cold weather situation," McCrory says.

A picture of an ice warning road sign.
Petelewisr / Wikipedia

Much of central North Carolina was hit with freezing rain overnight.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Sharp says ice will linger throughout the morning.

“Temperatures here across the Triangle today are in the upper 20s, and probably will not rise much above freezing until about lunchtime or so.”

North Carolina Department of Transportation Spokesman Steve Abbott says salt trucks were busy yesterday, and the roads themselves are mostly dry.

Truck being loaded with salt, Craven County (2/11/14)
NC DOT

Communities across the country are trying to replenish their stores of road salt. But, after the past harsh winter, the price of rock salt is climbing drastically.

Chris McGee is Raleigh's Transportation Field Services Manager. He says the city uses about 1,500 tons in a typical winter. But McGee said they used more than 4,000 tons this time around. Also, their cheaper purchasing contract just ended.

Raleigh recently signed a three-year contract that is 25 percent more expensive than the last one. McGee said they're buying enough salt for a typical winter right now.

A map of the Strategic Transportation Investments proposed projects.
NCDOT

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has ranked 3,100 proposed transportation projects. They're all vying for a chunk of the $15 billion expected to be allocated in the 2015 Transportation Improvement Program.

NCDOT's Chief Deputy Secretary Nick Tennyson said the department prioritized projects that would alleviate serious, ongoing traffic congestion. For that reason, many of the higher ranked projects are in the Triangle and Charlotte areas.

Interstate 40 traffic
Dave DeWitt

North Carolina's Department of Transportation is considering taxing drivers by the mile to help pay for road construction and upgrades. As cars become more efficient, the gas tax is becoming a less effective revenue source.

The department's Funding and Appropriations Strategies committee – or FAST – has been meeting with leaders and researchers across the state to hear concerns about population growth and potential solutions for insufficient infrastructure.

NC State researchers suggested a revenue model using annual odometer checks or GPS technology to tax motorists.

 Image of a branch that has been subjected to freezing rain within the previous 24 hours. Note the branch is completly encapsulated in ice. Some melting has occurred as temperatures were around 0 Celsius
David Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on 27 Dec 2009. / Wikipedia Creative Commons

A low-pressure system moving up from the south brought rain and sleet to Central North Carolina, and high pressure air from the North is keeping cold air in the area. The result has been freezing temperatures and icy roads.

A winter weather advisory is in effect for most of the state west of the Interstate 95 corridor until noon.

Ryan Ellis is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. He says ice is especially bad in the Triad.

Dixie Highway Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900 to 1930
uncpress.unc.edu / UNC Press

    

Before the 20th century, Southern roads were little more than rubble and dirt. Traveling from county to county was difficult and state to state was near impossible. The Dixie Highway, constructed in 1915, shifted control and funding of road regulations from local government to state and federal authorities. 

Icy Road
Danielle Scott http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielle_scott/ / Flickr Creative Commons

Temperatures dropped into the teens across the Piedmont overnight, freezing yesterday's rain and snowfall. Now roadways are covered with black ice.

Gail Hartfield is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. She says temperatures will be in the 20s all morning and won't warm to freezing or above until lunchtime.

“Just encouraging people to take it easy this morning,” Hartfield said. “If you can postpone travel until after noon, that's great and better. You'll see road conditions much improved over what they'll be this morning.”

 Image of a branch that has been subjected to freezing rain within the previous 24 hours. Note the branch is completly encapsulated in ice. Some melting has occurred as temperatures were around 0 Celsius
David Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on 27 Dec 2009. / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Updated 10:48 a.m.:

A cold front is moving into the Triangle and creeping eastward toward the coast. Temperatures are expected to drop into the 20s later today.

Scott Sharpe is a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service in Raleigh. He said a wintry mix is expected across the region sometime after lunch.

Triangle Transit Authority

The Federal Transit Authority (FTA) has given the green-light to begin the first steps of a 17-mile light rail project connecting Durham and Orange Counties.

The decision authorizes Triangle Transit to begin development on the project, by studying the potential environmental impact of two proposed rail routes.

Triangle Transit has put together this video "fly-through" of the proposed light rail route:

Danielle Scott / Flickr Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielle_scott/

The two-day snow and ice storm has finally stopped, but hazardous road conditions remain.

Kathleen Carroll is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Raleigh. She said temperatures rose into the upper-30s yesterday, causing the snow to start melting.

“The problem is that it didn't really dry out a whole lot before the sun set and temperatures started to fall again,” Carroll said. “So what's we've seen over night is a pretty good development of black ice on area roads.”

ice on everything
Justinsomnia / licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Forecasters say a serious ice storm is headed our way.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Moneypenny says conditions could be similar to those of a 2002 ice storm that caused long power-outages across the state.

Ice increases the risk of branches snapping power lines, and of motorists sliding off the road into utility poles.

Moneypenney says parts of the Piedmont could receive up to five inches of snow. It will fall on ground that's already frozen, and the air isn't likely to warm up until the weekend.

plastic grocery bags
Photo by mtsofan / John / found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

The National Weather Service is calling for an ice storm, not unlike one that crippled the state in 2002. Home and business owners are on the lookout for rock salt, but they're having trouble finding it.

Eileen Beatty manages Pope True Value Hardware in Durham. She says winter inventory has gotten slim since the last snowstorm.

“We don't have anything here. All the salt is gone. Kerosene heaters are gone. Electric heaters are gone. I got two snow shovels left... Two saucers and two sleds,” Beatty said. “And that's it.”

A wrecked car in Mecklenburg County, which had the highest total number of fatal crashes in 2012.
W. Robert Howell via creative commons

For the third year in a row, the same four counties have topped AAA Carolinas’ list of North Carolina’s most dangerous counties for car collisions. Pitt, New Hanover, Person and Watauga Counties were ranked the four most dangerous, all averaging over 250 car crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Pitt County has topped the list for five straight years.

You won't be alone if you're planning on driving to your destination this Thanksgiving holiday. Triple-A Carolinas says there will be more than 1-point-1 million North Carolinians on the roadways through the end of the week. Angela Vogel Daley is a spokeswoman for Triple-A Carolinas.

Rural roads and bridges across the country are often unsafe and in need of repair. That's according to a new report by TRIP, a national non-profit research group out of Washington. The report finds traffic deaths are around three times likelier on rural roads than all other roads. 907 people died on rural roads in North Carolina in 2009. That's the third highest total in the country.

Safer Road Edges

Mar 23, 2011
dot.gov

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is trying a new resurfacing technique intended to help drivers who drift off the road. A pilot program is starting Johnston County that uses a piece of paving equipment called the Safety Edge. Crews add a 30 degree angle of asphalt between the surface of a road and the shoulder. Current resurfacing projects leave a vertical drop-off at the edge of roads, which is filled in with loose materials, but can erode over time.