Trucker tip gains traction; MoDOT repairs slick spot on I-70

| 11/16/2011

After a close call on a curvy stretch of I-70 near St. Louis during a recent rain, a safety conscious trucker decided he’d had enough of the newly paved roadway’s slick surface. The trucker, OOIDA Life Member Tom Newman, had no idea his call would gain so much traction.

Drivers had no problem when the pavement was dry at mile marker 180, but it was a totally different story when it rained. Newman is a resident of Altamont, IL, and frequently drives through the St. Louis area.

“I was going through it six weeks ago and I thought I felt my drives speed up. This was under cruise control, and I didn’t think much of it and forgot about it,” Newman told Land Line Now.

“Three weeks ago, when I went around the curve in the rain, it came out from underneath me. I mean, it just flat jackknifed, and I just got lucky enough to kick the cruise off.”

That near miss, coupled with Newman hearing about other accidents at the spot, caused him to call the Missouri Department of Transportation’s cellphone emergency number, *55.

Just days later, Newman passed through again and saw a crew working on what he hoped was a solution.

“I don’t know whether my phone call made a difference,” Newman said.

The call made a difference, MoDOT area engineer Erik Maninga said. The call, along with reports from maintenance crews who assisted at a recent crash scene, led to communication with the Missouri Highway Patrol. The Patrol confirmed that a number of incidents had occurred at that spot during rain events.

“Customer service received a concern from one of the folks that was in an incident,” Maninga said.

MoDOT sent pavement experts to evaluate the slick spots. Even though the crew declared the area safe, the engineers ordered a diamond grinder to add texture to the roadway just to be safe, Maninga said.

And in addition, MoDOT ended up fixing another slick spot four miles to the west.

“One accident is something, but since we were resurfacing, we were seeing we had more than one,” Maninga said.

Work was to have been completed this week, he said.

Newman says he would have felt bad if he hadn’t called it in.

“You just don’t expect anybody, five days after you talk to them on the phone, to be out there fixing it,” he said.