Road conditions improve across Lowcountry; SCDOT prepares for more freezing temps

Drivers navigate snowy, icy I-26 despite being unable to see lanes (Source: Live 5)
Drivers navigate snowy, icy I-26 despite being unable to see lanes (Source: Live 5)
Highway 61 blocked early Friday morning. Source: Live 5
Highway 61 blocked early Friday morning. Source: Live 5

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The State Department of Public Safety has responded to more than 900 collisions and assisted more than 350 motorists in a matter of 24 hours in storm-affected areas around the state.

Those statistics were recorded from 6 a.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Thursday, two-and-a-half times more than this time last year.

Officials with South Carolina Highway Patrol said despite the sunny weather and somewhat warmer temperatures the roads were not ideal to be driving on because of hidden ice.

"Unless you're driving a Zamboni you're not going to be able to control the vehicle, especially at higher speeds," said Sergeant Bob Beres with SCHP.

It only takes one wrong move, or distraction to leave you fishtailing on the interstate or side roads with these conditions.

Some folks couldn't even make it up a slight incline on College Park Road because of the snow, ice build-up on the roads and the lack of winter equipment.

"I'm from Connecticut and at home we had studded tires, snow tires, and chains on tires, which down here you don't have," Beres said.

"We probably saw five or six cars stalled, or pulled over on the side of the road," said Graham McEachin, of North Charleston. "We're definitely going to take a different way home."

More than 5,000 tons of salt and sand have been used over the last few days to treat bridges and roadways because of the storm.SCDOT crews from four different districts are helping the coastal area.

However, I-26 appeared to be the major artery that needed a lot of work Thursday.

"You can't even tell where the lanes are," Beres said. "You can't see the painted white lines. Cars are pretty much just straddling the middle of the interstate, or what they think the lane is. Or they're making their own lane."

"The biggest challenge is watching out for everyone else," said John Thurston, a truck driver. "Making sure you're being careful and not crash into anyone I guess. It's real slick out there."

While we were riding on I-26 an 18-wheeler lost control on the road.

"Look at the tractor trailer, look at the trailer in front," Beres said. "He just did a big fish tail and almost hit the wall."

"Well you try to go below the posted speed limit of course," Thurston said. "Like you can see right here it's nothing but ice."

Now with temperatures dropping into the teens, there's the concern of everything that melted Thursday, refreezing.

"There's going to be plenty of more trouble this evening and probably tomorrow morning I'm sure," McEachin said.

SCDOT advised that snow and slush are expected to re-freeze continuously. Motorists are strongly encouraged to refrain from driving in the affected areas if possible.

Not only were authorities and DOT crews concerned about the roads, but also the number of stranded vehicles.

"On I-26 you'll see cars about every quarter of a mile on the side of the interstate that either went off the roadway yesterday or today," Beres said.

Highway Patrol will place an orange tag on the vehicle noting it has been checked out.

Areas of the Lowcountry are operating with 24-hour assistance from crews in other areas of the state, according to DOT officials.

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