By Steve Tawa, Steve Patterson and Todd Quinones
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reduced the speed limit to 45 miles per hour on area highways late Thursday evening.
PennDOT trucks are out in full force trying to stay ahead of this storm. But with snow falling as much as an inch an hour at times, that is proving to be difficult.
Secondary roads in and around Norristown are covered in snow. Driving conditions here are not good and they’re only getting worse.
“King of Prussia is pretty bad and Norristown Bridge is really bad, it’s icy. People are all over it like pulled over not driving. Stuck,” Frank McKiernan, of Norristown said.
“I saw two car accidents already coming from Paoli, so 202 is kind of bad,” Rick Allison, of Norristown said.
CBS 3 went for ride along with PennDOT plow truck driver Eric Lawrence. The snow mixed with high winds is cutting down on visibility. He’s asking other drivers to take it easy.
“When you see the plow trucks, give them some room so we can get our job done,” Lawrence said.
PennDOT is urging morning commuters to give themselves extra time to get to work as conditions are expected to be difficult well into the morning. The storm has already forced PennDOT to reduce the speed limit on area highways to 45 miles per hour:
- Interstates 76, 95, 476, 676;
- U.S. Routes 1, 30, 202, 422, and
- State Routes 63 and 309
But, more restrictions are possible.
“If the conditions worsen, conditions get bad, we’ll have to look at to see if there’s any restrictions on vehicles,” PennDOT spokesperson Nick Martino said.
Earlier Thursday, crews had already laid down a brine solution on area highways in hopes of keeping snow from sticking too much on the road surfaces.
Pre-wetting the roads with a solution of magnesium chloride helps crews stay ahead of the snow. PennDOT begins plowing after one-half inch of snow accumulates.
Working out of PennDOT’s maintenance center in Montgomery County, Howard Houseknecht manages how the salt and plow trucks are deployed.
“Each truck is assigned to their individual snow route and the number of roads each driver is responsible to maintain,” he says.
Granular salt, which is most effective when applied at temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, is used to melt snow and ice as it gets worked into the road’s surface by traffic.
The weather system is expected to create plenty of blowing and drifting snow through the morning rush.
“Just drive safe, and slow down,” Houseknecht advises.
At a Norristown gas station on Thursday afternoon, people were taking action to prepare for the storm.
“It’s very cold,” said Roslyn Brewer. “We had a few snows already. Matter of fact, I have salt in my car already, and I’m ready with my shovel.”
Sean Coyle wasn’t planning on stocking up, but he decided some last minute gas was important.
“Other than gas, just in case I get stuck in traffic, I’m not going to get stuck at the grocery store with everybody,” Coyle explained.
One driver, Bob Nyce, even threw out a warning for his fellow drivers: “Be careful, take it easy on the highway, and don’t go out if you don’t have to.”