Why do bridges ice over so much quicker than roadways?

On Sunday, there were accidents on several Valley bridges, including a massive 40-vehicle pileup on State Route 711

state route 711 bridge youngstown


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Bridges ice over in colder temperatures, causing accidents like Sunday’s massive pileup on State Route 711. But why were the bridges so bad and what caused them to freeze so fast?

Brent Kovacs with the Ohio Department of Transportation says crews were salting 711 around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, about three hours before the pileup occurred.

He says it was “a perfect storm.”

“The weather trends were looking like it was drying up, so we weren’t out there at the time that the crash did happen.”

Tom Klejka, assistant highway superintendent for the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office, agrees with Kovacs’ sentiment.

“When the sun set and the winds were blowing, you had the perfect storm for icy bridges.”

On Sunday, there were accidents on several other Valley bridges, including the Mahoning Avenue bridge in Austintown Township and the Shirley Road bridge in Youngstown.

Klejka explains how bridges ice over much quicker than roadways.

“There’s nothing under the bridge to keep it insulated. The ground keeps the roadway insulated when you have the wind conditions that we had yesterday. With the wind chill factor blowing under the bridge as well as over top of it, it’ll create the icy condition.”

Both Kovacs and Klejka say that the best advice for drivers is to slow down when approaching a bridge, and maintain that speed throughout the entire length of it. Drivers start to lose control of the vehicle when they brake or accelerate.

“We’re in winter and you have to adjust your driving time. Leave a little bit early, give yourself some extra time and drive according to the conditions,” Klejka said. “Just because roads may be dry and clear doesn’t mean the bridges are.”


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