Road crews work to keep roads safe during icy conditions

Road crews work to keep roads safe during icy conditions

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Blount County maintenance workers load chat into a truck to treat the roads. Blount County maintenance workers load chat into a truck to treat the roads.
In Monroe County, officials treated the roads with brine ahead of the storm. In Monroe County, officials treated the roads with brine ahead of the storm.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Road crews all over East Tennessee were busy Thursday preparing for a storm that is expected to bring freezing rain and icy conditions to the region for Friday's morning commute.

In Blount County, the trucks were in and out of the salt bin Thursday afternoon, filling up with a mixture of salt and gravel that they were spreading across the county's roads.

In the county's mountainous terrain, the gravel-salt mixture known as chat is essential for icy weather.

"With the chat on it, the cars going to move a little. Without it, it goes in a ditch. It's got a lot of traction with this mixture right here," said Scott White, of the Blount County Highway Department.

The supervisors watched the Doppler weather radar throughout the night to be prepared for whatever the storm may bring.

"We expect the worst. It doesn't matter it's part of a forecast or the whole one, you always prepare for the worst," he said.

They expect areas like Happy Holler and up towards Seymour to be hit the worst, but they want everyone to stay home if possible.

"Stay off the roads, let us do our work. That seems to be more of the problem than anything for starting to work. The guys on the plows are risking their lives," White said. "My urgency is people stay off the road and let us get this stuff off the roads."

A big concern is some of the low roads that saw a lot of flooding from last week's storms could freeze over and cause an even greater problem.

Blount County workers hope Thursday's salting will help prevent that.

Beginning at 6 a.m., they will hit the roads with more salt and plows to clear off the roads as quickly as possible.

Knoxville road crews are working through the night to keep city streets as safe as possible.

"We're going to work all the way until we load the salt, then we're going to go out there and stage. we have 6 trucks running the brine operation," said Chris Webster with City of Knoxville Public Service.

Trucks have already sprayed salt brine on the city's major roads and secondary streets.

Thursday night, they will work on neighborhood streets.

"Pre-treating is all you can do, and then be ready, if the weather does get bad to put the salt down, and that should eliminate the problem," Webster added.

They planned to set up salt trucks in six different staging areas throughout the city starting at about 3:00 a.m. Friday morning.

Crews will also be on hand to help with messy roads in case another agency has trouble with slick spots.

"If it gets slick and ice, and the power lines break, we'll do our best to get out there and get it taken care of and if the fire department has any issues or ambulance service, then we'll be there," Webster said.

Tennessee Department of Transportation trucks sprayed the highways and interstates with brine starting Thursday morning.

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