Snow, crashes strand motorists on I-77

A burst of heavy snow is being blamed for a rash of tractor-trailer crashes that left a number of motorists stranded for several hours Thursday evening on two interstate routes in northern North Carolina, authorities say.

At one point, state officials sent relief vehicles along Interstate 77 and Interstate 74 to see whether trapped motorists needed any help. The roadway was cleared late Thursday, authorities say.

The N.C. Department of Transportation said the problems began about 4 p.m., when a band of heavy snow moved across northern North Carolina. Within a short time, authorities say, three tractor-trailers got stuck on I-77, between mile markers 85 and 100. That is in Surry County, just south of the Virginia line.

The stranded trucks snarled traffic, triggering several other collisions.

A number of motorists got off I-77 and onto I-74, but the problems followed them. Two tractor-trailers slid off the road and got stuck, a short distance east of the Park Drive overpass.

Jordan-Ashley Baker, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said the truck wrecks on I-74 left that highway impassable and set off additional congestion. She said the DOT sent several snow plows and salt spreaders to I-74, I-77 and U.S. 52 to clear the new snow.

“Those roads were initially cleared before the latest band of snow moved in,” Baker said.

She said the DOT sent two Incident Management Assistance Patrol (IMAP) trucks from Statesville, another from Forsyth County and a fourth from Davie County to I-77. The IMAP crews were assigned to check on drivers stuck in the congestion, to provide fuel if needed, and to help with traffic control.

The problem was cleared late Thursday.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer