Gov. Baker: MassDOT Crews ‘A Little Late’ Responding To Ice On Roads

BOSTON (CBS) – Dozens of cars crashed around Greater Boston Wednesday morning as icy conditions leading in and out of the city caught MassDOT and state officials off guard, leading to one of the worst morning commutes in recent memory.

Gov. Baker, who instituted a 2-hour delay for state employees so crews could treat the dangerously icy roads, said the pre-treatment sanding done by MassDOT crews was washed away by rain, which then froze overnight.

“As this weather turn happened, the DOT’s meteorologist notified them around 5, and they started putting equipment out to try and treat the roads,” Baker said. “But obviously, it was a little late to get ahead of it at that point.”

MassDOT Highway Administrator Tom Tinlin told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Joe Mathieu the forecast initially called for freezing temperatures in central and western Massachusetts, but that it changed at 4:30 a.m. to include Boston, catching them off-guard.

“We had some rain move in, dramatic drop in temperatures, and that freeze, so that was not anticipated,” he said. “As soon as that forecast changed at 4:30 in the morning, we deployed over 200 additional resources out there to salt, to sand, and to get ready for the morning commute. Successful in some areas … not so much in others, when you’re trying to do that kind of catch-up.”

The largest crash was on Route 128 north in the Lynnfield-Wakefield area, where about 55 vehicles crashed before sunrise. Thirty of those vehicles had to be towed.

Route 128 northbound from Woburn to Wakefield was completely closed, but Massachusetts State Police reopened it around 8:45 a.m. A video of the pileup showed the size of the crash scene as crews worked to clear it.

A photo from the 55-car pileup on Route 128 north in Wakefield. (WBZ-TV)
A photo from the 30-car pileup on Route 128 north in Wakefield. (WBZ-TV)

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As many as 30 cars and trucks crashed on Route 128 in the Wakefield-Lynnfield area Wednesday. (Photo credit: Anna Meiler – WBZ-TV)

In Newton, 128 north was also closed because of two separate accidents involving a total of 20 cars and leaving one person with a minor injury. In total, Newton Police said there were more than 55 minor crashes in the city as of 9:15 a.m.

They said some people were taken to area hospitals with minor injuries.

Two of those crashes involved school buses–one of which had children on it, though none of the children were injured.

Cambridge Police said there were 22 crashes in the city, with no serious injuries and several cars needing to be towed. Brookline Police said they had 15 crashes since 6:15 a.m.

On Interstate 93 north, there was a 10-car crash in Woburn and a 7-vehicle crash in Medford.

In Boston, State Police said ice had closed the Mass Ave Bridge as well as parts of Storrow and Memorial Drives. All were reopened around 8:30 a.m., but police said drivers should still expect delays.

A chain reaction crash caused an 18-car pileup on the Eliot Bridge in Boston around 6:50 a.m. State Police said minor injuries were reported.

“I was just like coming down a sheet of ice,” one driver involved in the Eliot Bridge crash told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens. “We tried to stop and the breaks didn’t do anything. Luckily we weren’t going that fast, so we just kind of slowly slid into the car in front of us.”

The bridge was reopened shortly before 8:30 a.m.

State Police also said they were working to clear a crash with police in Westford on Route 225 between Acton and Griffin Streets. Because the crash caused power lines to fall on the car, they said the driver couldn’t be removed until power was shut off.

Tinlin cautioned drivers to slow down and use an abundance of caution, and warned against the dangers of black ice.

No serious injuries have been reported in any of the crashes at this point.

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