DAYTON, OHIO (WDTN) — You are traveling down the highway, driving along, when all of a sudden, your tires start sliding out from you. You have hit ice — But why does it freeze on the bridge first? The answer is the surrounding air and surface.
Matt Bruning, Ohio Department of Transportation Press Secretary said, “When you look at a roadway that’s overtop of soil, the soil conditions are going to allow that heat to stay in the ground longer, and that radiates up through the pavement. When you’ve got a bridge, the pavement, the structure is surrounded by the air temperature.
With the lack of insulation underneath the bridge, the temperature of the bridge falls much faster than the roadway. Freezing temperatures combined with an incoming weather system can cause problems for ODOT, who end up playing catch up.
Bruning said, “We can’t pre-treat for rain. The rain would just wash the pretreatment off the roadway. You also really can’t put a lot of salt down during rain because again, that would just get washed off the roadway. So, a storm system that’s starting with a rain or a freezing rain and then converting over to snow, those are going to be more challenging for us.”
When ODOT is unable to pre-treat, it is on the motorist to change their driving to the conditions.
Sgt. Tyler Ross, Ohio State Highway Patrol Public Information Officer said, “Approach with caution. Slow down ahead of time. Try not to brake, accelerate, or change lanes on a bridge. Everything you do on a bridge is going to take more time than it typically would on a roadway, especially if it’s freezing. And then also to maintain a safe distance between the vehicle and traffic ahead.”
ODOT has sensors on a limited number of bridges around the state, which can be helpful if you are headed out on the roads.
You can find the sensors as well as live video feeds on their website.