Drivers face snow-packed freeways during morning commute

Drivers face snow-packed freeways during morning commute »Play Video

Portland, Ore. -- The hill on I-5 through Tigard northbound into Portland was trouble for drivers all night long.

Drivers spun their tires on the slick roadway. It was icy from snow that had compacted after falling earlier in the day.

Oregon Department of Transportation sanding truck put down a layer of sand to get traffic moving. Then road graders came in to scrape away ice and snow so more sand could be put down for the morning commute.

ODOT crews were out all night long plowing and sanding Portland freeways and highways. ODOT warned, however, that the bond between the snow and the pavement was hard to break.

Crews plan to work all day.

"ODOT does not recommend driving in these conditions, consider delaying your trip, taking transit or walking," the department said in a news release.

About a dozen cars were also stranded Thursday night on the on-ramp from I-405 southbound to highway 26 westbound before the Vista Ridge tunnel. It was a sign of what drivers will face again Friday morning.

Any place where traffic slowed for a turn in the snow – may have turned to ice tonight and will be icy in the morning.

Some people helped pushed stranded drivers out of the ice and snow. Brittany Smith was one of them.

“A bunch of people – like six, seven, eight of us – just moving people’s cars out of the way so everyone can keep going…it’s insane,” Smith said.

Don Dykes chained up his Jeep and used a tow strap to pull drivers up the ramp. “Yeah, everybody’s messed up pretty bad, you know,” said Dykes, “I saw it on the news so I thought, well, I’ll chain my Jeep up with all fours and go over and help people.”

Ben Weyland helped too, knowing morning drivers may have problems too.

“I feel bad for anybody that’s gonna be on the road tomorrow morning.  It’s gonna be just as bad,” said Weyland, ”Hopefully they sand and make the roads drivable in the morning for the commute.”

TriMet plans to have tire chains or drop chains on all of its buses for the morning commute. TriMet supervisors plan to look at conditions through the early morning hours to see whether buses can drive in the metro area’s higher elevations. Anyone planning to ride a bus or light rail should dress warm and be ready for long waits outdoors. TriMet will keep light rail trains running all night long to keep the rails and overhead wires clear of ice.

TriMet says the biggest holdup for buses Thursday was the traffic, not the snow, and with so many schools shut down because of the snow, they expect a lot less traffic on the streets and highways Friday.