Thursday, December 20, 2012
The City of Wichita is apologizing for bad road conditions Thursday morning, as slush quickly turned to ice right before the morning rush hour.
According to Wichita Public Works, crews were out all night, but the precipitation remained slushy. At 3:00, public works director Joe Pajor says a decision was made not to call in extra crews and to treat only bridges and overpasses with salt and sand.
"Typically, if we go from slush to frozen pavement, it occurs in a gradual manner," Pajor said. "In this storm event,m that freezing occurred across the city within about an hour at about 6:00 am."
Sedgwick County 911 reports there were 250 injury and non-injury accidents in and around Wihcita from 3:00 a.m. through the morning commute.
"We weren't fully equipped to handle it," explained City Manager Bob Layton. "We got people out there as soon as we could, but it wasn't in time to really help the rush hour. It did not meet our normal maintenance standard, and for that I apologize to our residents."
People don't want excuses, Layton said in making the apology.
"They just want us to prevent this from happening and we didn't," he said.
In a post on social media, they city said the roads got worse than they expected. They also said they will be more aggressive with using salt and sand for future storms.
It was a mixed reaction from drivers at a gas station near 13th and West Street.
"It was very surprising," said Carlene Classen. "All along 13th Street, nothing but ice. It was very slippery. Fortunately, I have a 4-wheel drive."
But motorist Ken Hunter said he took it in stride.
"It wasn't that bad," he said. "You had traction as long as you weren't driving like an idiot and kept it slow. If it was 40 miles-per-hour, I kept it to 30-35."
The emergency accident reporting plan was in effect for Wichita for most of the morning, but was canceled just after 11 a.m.