Tulsa Police Slow Traffic On U.S. 169 While ODOT Treats Ice Covered Highway

Thursday, February 10th 2011, 10:00 am
By: News On 6


TULSA, Oklahoma -- Icy spots along U.S. Highway 169 caused so many wrecks Thursday morning, Tulsa police had to partially shut it down.

Police shut down traffic between 11st Street and 91st Street South on Highway 169 around 10 a.m. Thursday so ODOT crews could treat the ice on the roadway.  Traffic was moving again by noon.

"It was unbelievable," Harold Goad, with the Tulsa Police Department. "The roadway is iced over and we've had probably a dozen crashes in the last hour and a half."

Officer Harold Goad saw the chaos first-hand, starting with the first wreck around 7:30 a.m. He said other drivers only made things worse.

"There were semis going by at 60 miles per hour and private citizens were driving around the crashes," Goad said.

Six trucks spread sand and salt on that stretch of highway. Some vehicles were allowed to stay on the highway during that time because traffic is just as important as the sun during the drying process.

"We've got to keep the traffic on it and keep it moving and keep the water moving around," Marty Stewart, with ODOT, said. "If you take traffic off of it, then we have the problem where it freezes and we have just one big skate rink."

The heat from the tires helped melt the ice, on top of what the salt and sand were already doing. While traffic helped, speeders did not.

"What we call the "hammer lane," the inside lane, they are actually way too fast," Stewart said.

The speed limit on the highway is 65 miles per hour. Police and ODOT suggest drivers go 45 until things warm up.

"It's better to be smart and stay alive than drive a little bit too fast and risk your life or somebody else's," Jeff LaRue, a driver, said.

Earlier Thursday morning, Tulsa Police had to scramble to deal with a rollover wreck on an on a ramp from 51st Street South to the westbound Broken Arrow Expressway. 

The driver wasn't hurt, and the crash didn't completely block the ramp - but it still affected traffic.