We have gotten many questions on the road condition and what the city of Oxford is doing to treat the roads. Short answer: Everything we can.
Long answer and maybe more than you want to know:
Our Road Crews have been preparing for this event for a week and expect to spend the next week responding as temperatures remain below freezing. We pre-applied a brine treatment to prevent as much ice/snow from freezing to the pavement as possible.
This treatment improves roadway conditions but does not return them to normal or prevent some areas from accumulating ice. Pre-treatment does improve our ability to remove heavier snow and ice. We began to see many icy areas yesterday as freezing fog and misting rain fell all morning with 20-degree temperatures. All trucks and materials were stocked and personnel were ready when this weather event arrived.
They started working at 3 a.m. Sunday morning applying slag (small rock) to the roadways to increase friction. This rock was quickly pushed out of the roadway by vehicles and was continually replaced. We have focused these efforts on our major roadways. The extreme cold temperatures have made this work more difficult as the slag material is literally freezing in the trucks and crews are forced to use torches to thaw the material. Equipment and personnel have been prepared for snow plow operations as accumulations develop.
Due to the rarity of these type events in the South, Oxford, like most any other Southern town, is not equipped to have the streets immediately cleared in the same way you may see in northern areas. We also have to deal with more ice/sleet in our winter events, which adds additional difficulty. In order to begin the plowing operation, there has to be enough accumulation of snow on the roadway for the equipment to collect or we are simply dragging the blade on the pavement and ruining the equipment and roadway surface.
We tried the plows early this morning but found that we were making it slicker by compacting the snow and ice and creating a sheet of ice that we couldn’t cut through. We have just gotten the plows back out and are starting on Molly Barr Road.
Our road crews are doing everything possible to keep the roadways passable for emergency responders and essential workers. Crews will continue to work around the clock to put out slag. We will not be able to treat every roadway and we will not be able to keep areas from re-freezing while temperatures remain this cold. We continue to ask that all who can stay home do so to minimize risk for those that can’t. If you must go out, drive very slowly and expect to have limited traction or control, particularly at intersections and in turns.
Thank you for your patience. We are stronger together.
Robyn Tannehill is the mayor of Oxford. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.