Traffic backed up on I-10 as police continue to urge motorists to stay off the roads – Press-Register

MOBILE, Alabama – Traffic is backed up on eastbound Interstate 10 and has left motorists
stalled on entrance ramps as authorities continue to stress that people should
not be driving
.

“The
Department understands Mobilians may need to drive for necessary items.
However, we strongly caution citizens against driving,” Mobile police
spokeswoman Ashley Rains said. “Roadways are still treacherous and ice that
melted will likely freeze again causing black ice conditions.”

Vince Calametti, engineer with the Alabama Department of Transportation’s southern region, said that traffic delays are expected for another half hour on I-10 as crews work to remove slush and ice that has been built up near the George Wallace Tunnel.

The eastbound interstate has been closed since early in the morning when, around 10 a.m., two 18-wheel trucks hit ice spots and crashed, Calametti said. Then, a recreational vehicle pulling a car his an ice spot and also crashed.

“We had a mess out there for several hours,” Calametti said.

He said because eastbound I-10 has not been traveled on all day, it’s too dangerous for vehicles and that — once the tunnel opens — traffic will be routed to the Causeway where conditions are better.

In the meantime, Calametti said a salt truck and plow will tackle the I-10 Bayway after it makes a pass along the Cochran-Africantown Bridge, which has been closed due to the icy conditions.

Mobile police, meanwhile,
have since removed almost all barricades. The only barricades remaining are at Howells Ferry Road between Carlisle and Colonial and the Airport
Boulevard ramp at I-65.

But
the black ice conditions have police and ALDOT officials concerned.

Temperatures
are expected to drop to below freezing later this evening, which will likely
cause roads to re-freeze and create dangerous driving conditions.

Calametti said that eastbound I-10 might not reopen until later tonight, but he said it’s frustrating that people are out driving around in
what is still considered a dangerous situation.

“We
had a salting operating in Baldwin County heading to the Delta River
and an 18- wheeler hit our … truck,” Calametti said. “The traffic out
in this time is
not helping our operations. We need to think of safety also. We can only
do
what we can do.”

The concerns from road crews are not stopping motorists from attempting to get onto
I-10.

Barb Sallert of St. Paul, Minn., is stranded on the entrance
ramp to the interstate waiting for authorities to arrive to what an Alabama
Department of Transportation official described as a crash, although Mobile
police and the Fire-Rescue Department do not have additional information.

Sallert drove from Mississippi to Mobile on Tuesday, and was
planning to drive to Pensacola Wednesday.

To them, driving in slick condition is nothing new. Sallert
said she did not know that the area doesn’t treat the roads before a rare winter
weather event strikes.

“I noticed people didn’t know how to drive here,” Sallert
said.

Vehicles are stranded on I-10 in both directions. An ALDOT
official could not be reached immediately for comment.

AL.com Photographer Sharon Steinmann contributed to this report.

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