January 11

Icy roads snarl traffic in central Maine

Parts of U.S. Route 2 reportedly were closed after a truck slid off the road, and a police cruiser was damaged in Norridgewock.

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The old adage about winter road conditions being like a glass bottle held true Saturday morning when freezing rain and icy surfaces sent cars spinning off the road throughout central Maine.

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ICE walk: A pedestrian crosses Elm Street in Waterville on Saturday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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ICE WORK: Bruce Heath, with KB Property Care, clears the sidewalks Saturday on Main Street in Waterville. More ice has covered central Maine, making travel a dangerous adventure.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Additional Photos Below

The weather was all about freezing rain, then rain on already frozen surfaces, a flood watch by the National Weather Service and scattered reports of wires down and the potential for power outages.

Road crews struggled to keep up with conditions, especially on back roads, where highway crews used tire chains to get to remote locations.

By 12:30 p.m., even as temperatures warmed toward the freezing mark, a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy’s cruiser, a towing company wrecker and a Maine Department of Transportation truck all were stuck on ice on Walker Road in Norridgewock, said Cpl. Gene Cole, of the sheriff’s department.

The cruiser sustained minor damage, but nobody was injuried.

“We’re slip-sliding around,” Cole said by phone. “We have vehicles off the road all over Somerset (County). Secondary roads were all glazed over with ice. Route 23 between Canaan and Hartland was just like a glass bottle.”

No injuries were reported in any of the accidents. It was nuisance, inconvenience and vehicles hitting ice-covered snowbanks.

State troopers patrolling locations away from the coast said icy roads made travel treacherous. Many plow trucks had difficulty getting sand and salt onto the roads until temperatures warmed up during the day, Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said.

“Motorists need to be extra cautious or delay travel until later in the day,” he said.

Accidents involving vehicles sliding off the road on Interstate 95 still were being reported at 3 p.m. Saturday

Parts of U.S. Route 2 were closed after trucks slid off the road Saturday morning.

In Franklin County, a sheriff’s dispatcher said parts of the highway were closed about 10 miles west of Farmington. Traffic was being diverted to Route 17 through Wilton, even as another section of U.S. 2 in the Dixfield area was shut down.

There were no reports of injuries related to the truck accident on U.S. 2.

In Waterville, police Sgt. Lincoln Ryder said there were reports of four or five automobile accidents Saturday, but many more reports of cars off the road, stuck on hills or wedged into snowbanks.

“The roads were in bad shape. Public works has been out since 5:30 or 6,” Ryder said.

No injuries were reported in the accidents, but there was property damage to the vehicles involved, he said. He said the main streets in Waterville were in good shape, but side streets still were treacherous. At one point, Ryder said, an oil delivery truck became stuck on ice on Roosevelt Street.

Jeff Pouland, who lives on Glidden Street, off Cool Street in Waterville, said he lost control of his minivan about 10:30 a.m. Saturday and was helpless as it slid sideways into a parked Ford pickup truck, damaging both vehicles.

“I was coming home from work and thought, ‘Should I even try?’” said Pouland, a postal clerk and freelance photographer. “I was halfway down the street, just creeping along, and all of a sudden I completely lost control and slid all the way down the hill.”

Pouland said if the pickup truck he hit had not been parked where it was, he might have slid all the way down the road and into nearby Messalonskee Stream. Pouland said he was uninjured and had no passengers with him.

Later, Pouland said he and saw a town plow truck hit the same icy patch he had hit and start sliding toward his minivan, which still was parked where it had landed earlier. The truck slid into a driveway

“Thankfully, it stopped,” he said.

The truck laid down a layer of sand and salt and left, Pouland said.

“The road is still an ice rink,” he said about 2 p.m. “It caught people off guard. It was supposed to have warmed up.”

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for all of central Maine for 4 p.m. Saturday until 7 p.m. Sunday.

Total rainfall was estimated at 1 to 2 inches, with temperatures warming Sunday into the 40s to near 50 degrees. The combination of rain and melted snow could cause localized flooding and ice jams in rivers.

The forecast for Sunday is sunny, with a high near 45, according to the weather service.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367dharlow@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Doug_Harlow
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Additional Photos

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keeping balance: A woman tries negotiate the ice-covered sidewalk on Main Street in downtown Waterville on Saturday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans


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