Weather brings trouble to county roads

Friday’s unexpectedly high snowfall snarled road conditions in Hancock County for most of the morning and afternoon, especially on U.S. Route 30 and state Route 2 on Station Hill in New Cumberland.

Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said deputies were kept busy responding to fender-benders and assisting stranded motorists. A single-vehicle accident on Route 30 damaged a utility pole and strew live wires across the road at about 4 p.m. Friday, forcing closure of the highway.

“We’ve had nothing but trouble all day,” Fletcher said. “We’ve had a lot of accidents all over the place. It’s been a mess.”

Conditions on the Route 30 hill south of Chester got so bad that crews with the West Virginia Division of Highways had to work in tandem to keep the heavily-traveled route passable.

Hancock County Highway Garage Administrator Jim Witherow had one word to describe conditions at noon Friday: “Horrible. … They’re doing all they can do, but it’s coming down faster than we can get it off the road. We’re having problems everywhere.”

By 4 p.m., conditions had improved, Witherow said. “We did the best we could. It just kept coming today,” he said, noting that tractor trailers especially had trouble on the Route 30 hill and on state Route 2.

State crews applied a salt and cinder mix to main routes early in the day, only getting to secondary routes after the snow tapered off late Friday afternoon.

“Where we had vehicles stuck, we were in constant communication with 911. … We had a good rapport today,” Witherow said.

In New Cumberland, crews concentrated their efforts on Station Hill, which can be dicey for truck traffic even in good conditions. Mayor Richard Blackwell said state crews handle Station Hill because it is a state route.

“They finally did get a truck down here and made numerous passes up and down, spreading salt,” he said, “It was coming down so fast nobody could keep up.”

One of the heaviest snowfalls of the winter came at an inopportune time for the city, which lost its street department employee, Ron White, on Friday. White, who previously had tendered his resignation, drove the city’s snow plow and salt spreader until 2 p.m. Friday, after which time a water department employee had to take over, Blackwell said.

“He used to do the snow removal before. He’s very familiar with everything,” Blackwell said, noting that the city is advertising to fill the street department vacancy.