PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) — While much of upper Eastern Kentucky woke up Thursday to snow and ice-covered streets, roads and cars and the treacherous driving that comes with it, it was about 8 a.m. Thursday when freezing rain in Lawrence, Martin, and Johnson counties quickly turned wet roads into dangerous ice-covered pavement, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
This weather system then moved slowly down US 23 into Floyd, Pike, Knott, and Letcher counties.
“We are at a point where we need rising temperatures,” said Mary Westfall-Holbrook, Highway District 12 chief district engineer. “Our crews started treating the roads at midnight with rock salt and liquid calcium chloride. This would be sufficient if we were dealing with snow, but ice is an entirely different challenge.”
Westfall-Holbrook explained the freezing rain turns to ice across all lanes of traffic, as well as on bridges and ramps.
“This is not patchy black ice like we get in the early mornings after snow melts. This is much more difficult to detect and affects each vehicle’s traction on the roadway.”
There are reports of trees blocking KY 3398 between mile points 1 and 2, about a half-mile from US 23, in Lawrence County, as well as KY 1092 in Johnson County between mile points 4 and 5. These trees brought down utility lines, so the D12 maintenance crew must wait on the utility company to remove the lines before they can clear the roadway. Also, KY 825 in Johnson County, between KY 40 and US 460 is blocked by trees.
A traffic signal on US 23 at Louisa, affected by a local power outage, is back in service after the signal crew installed a generator.
“The freezing rain shows no signs of stopping at the present time,” Westfall-Holbrook said. “We are keeping up with the related issues as quickly as possible, keeping in mind the safety of our employees. “Now is the time to stay inside, wherever you are. Please, please do not risk your safety or that of other people and our crews. Temperatures are still at or barely above freezing. We ask that people give us time to work and time for the pavement temperature to warm before attempting to drive in these conditions.”
Highway District 12 covers seven counties in Eastern Kentucky: Lawrence, Johnson, Martin, Floyd, Knott, Pike, and Letcher.
For more information, check the District’s Facebook page KYTC District 12 or go to http://snowky.ky.gov/ for statewide information.