Steer clear of Gen. Thomas Highway, official warns

Published 2:34 pm Monday, February 1, 2010

FRANKLIN—City crews are continuing to de-ice roads in Franklin Monday, and one official is urging drivers to use caution when traveling over roads that are still slick.

Meanwhile, Virginia Department of Transportation officials are asking drivers to avoid General Thomas Highway for a few hours to give crews time to clear the roadway.

“We’ll be working on the roads throughout the day,” said Russ Pace, Franklin’s director of public works. “All of the primary roads have been salted, but you have to put the salt on and give it time to work. We had people working on last night getting salt down and then we are coming through with the plow.”

Pace noted that some streets in the city that were still snow-covered Monday, like North High and Clay streets, are still passable to motorists.

“If you take your time and leave proper stopping distance, you’re not going to have any problems,” he said. “Of course, anytime you have weather like this, don’t go out unless you have to.”

In Southampton County, several roads have been listed by the VDOT as “minor” or “passable with caution,” which means they have the potential for having icy patches or snow on the roadway. Those roads include Business 58 going into Courtland and Franklin, Smiths Ferry Road south of Southampton Parkway and to the North Carolina border, South Quay Road, Southampton Parkway east of South Street, Ruritan Boulevard and U.S. 58 headed toward Suffolk. U.S. 35 from 607 to Boykins is listed as “moderate” or “having snow or ice covering most of the roadway,” as is 186 from Boykins to the North Carolina border.

VDOT Spokeswoman Lauren Hansen asked that motorists traveling between Boykins and Courtland, to take Route 35 instead of 671, or General Thomas Highway.

“Route 35 is completely clear, and that will help allow crews with equipment (to clear 671) without traffic obstructing them,” she said.

Hansen said VDOT workers are keeping a close eye on roadways that are lined with trees, which seem to be blocking sunlight from the roads and keeping those road icy or snow-covered.

“Any slushy conditions that we make headway on this afternoon are going to refreeze tonight,” she said Monday. “We are going to have crews at the ready to treat any road conditions that develop tomorrow. They’ll be ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store for us.”

City crews also cleared public parking lots at City Hall, the library and the health department, which brought criticism from residents who were still having trouble maneuvering on the streets.

“Those areas are cleared by different crews and different machinery,” Pace explained.

Pace said he is hopeful that the warmer temperatures that have been forecast for the week will help conditions on the roads.

“I’m feeling pretty good about the 40-degree weather and rain,” he said. “That’s going to help a lot.”

Rain and snow showers with the possibility of sleet are expected Tuesday, but Wednesday and Thursday forecast shows mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 50s.

Rain and snow showers are expected again Saturday, with temperatures in the 40s.