Drivers warned to take their time

T-L Photo/JENNIFER COMPSTON-STROUGH AN OVERTURNED concrete truck lies across both lanes of Ohio 147 about 2 miles east of Centerville on Thursday afternoon. The driver was taken to Wheeling Hospital for treatment of his injuries, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers.

CENTERVILLE — Even though the recent bout of winter weather seems to be over for the moment, snow and ice are still lingering across the Ohio Valley and causing traffic accidents and other problems.

Blowing and drifting snow created hazardous conditions on Ohio 147 in the Centerville area on Thursday. Although the state highway was largely clear and dry, there were many locations where wind blew snow from adjacent fields onto the roadway, where it accumulated at depths of up to 4-5 inches. In some cases, the snow-covered stretches of roadway extended for 100 yards or more.

On Ohio 147 just north of Dysart Woods Road, a car traveled off the roadway and collided with a tree about 1 p.m. Thursday. An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper at the scene said a young woman driving the car came upon an unexpected patch of ice and snow and lost control. The Bethesda and Belmont volunteer fire departments responded. The trooper, who was waiting on another trooper to arrive and conduct an investigation, said the driver, estimated to be in her early 20s, was taken to Wheeling Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

No additional information on that crash was available Thursday evening.

Another accident occurred at about the same time a short distance away, but patrol Sgt. Joe Weaver said it was not a result of adverse weather conditions.

A 2002 International cement truck owned by Hanson Ready Mix was headed east on Ohio 147 traveled out of control while negotiating a right curve in the roadway, Weaver said. It overturned, completely blocking both lanes of the highway about 2 miles east of Centerville. In addition to the patrol, the Smith Township and Spirit of ’76 VFDs and Stonebraker’s Towing Service responded.

Weaver said the cement truck driver, Robert Raspperry of McMechen, was transported by Spirit of ’76 medics to Wheeling Hospital to be treated for internal injuries. He remained hospitalized late Thursday.

According to Weaver, the truck had been to a well pad near Jacobsburg and was returning to its headquarters with a partial load of cement on board. He noted the truck caused some damage when it struck the guardrail.

Weaver said Raspperry is being charged with failure to control.

“It was not weather related,” Weaver said of the crash.

Still, accidents such as the one involving the car and continuing hazardous conditions have representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation reminding drivers to take their time and keep a sharp eye out when traveling.

Jerry Campbell, transportation manager for ODOT in Belmont County, said many of the issues his department is trying to deal with now are caused by drifting snow. Low temperatures have ensured that the snow from recent winter storms has remained around for a while, and windy conditions help to blow the powder across roads that might otherwise be clear. Campbell said all of the drivers from ODOT outposts in the county, as well as from the main garage in Morristown, are out trying to keep the roads clear. He said each route the trucks travel takes about an hour to complete, and by the time trucks head back to the garage wind has already undone part of the work they have completed. Campbell said the drifting snow can be a real hazard for drivers on local roads.

“When people go from a dry road to an area with snow blowing across, they sometimes don’t realize what happened,” Campbell said.

Some roads are fairly clear after several days of treatment by ODOT trucks and travel by residents, but others can still be hazardous. Campbell said main roads such as Interstate 70 tend to be fairly clear due to the high amount of traffic on them. With more cars on the roadway, heat is generated and contributes to melting existing snow. But on rural roads and state highways with lesser amounts of traffic, some snow has not had the chance to melt. Instead, it gets compacted down, creating a slick surface that can be even more hazardous for drivers than when the snow was fresh.

Campbell said ODOT drivers and trucks do their best to keep the roads treated and clear for travelers, but there is no foolproof way for motorists to avoid being in an accident when the roads are snow covered. Campbell said the best advice he has for drivers is for them to take their time and use common sense when they have to be out driving during winter weather. He also asked that drivers respect ODOT trucks and give them space when they are out on the roads.

“As with any weather event, especially with snow, it’s best to slow down and don’t crowd the plow. Give them room,” Campbell said. “They’re slow.”

Managing Editor Jennifer Compston-Strough contributed to this report.