Icy roads slow drivers, worry police in Jackson County

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – Drivers tried to take it slow Friday while traveling on U.S. 67 into Jackson County.

Road crews mostly worked in vain to clear the highway of ice and slush. Sleet fell persistently until Friday afternoon, erasing most of the progress that the Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department attempted to make for drivers.

With road conditions still unsatisfactory, Arkansas State Police asked drivers to stay home if at all possible.

"At this time, we're receiving more precipitation than we had overnight," Cpl. Joe Williams said, "so the roads are becoming more treacherous and hazardous.  We urge the public to staff off the roads unless it's an emergency."

Cpl. Williams said the winter storm has increased the state troopers' workload all across the state because icy and snowy roads have caused numerous accidents.

ASP Troop B in Newport got reports of a few wrecks in the Sharp County area early Friday morning due to slick conditions on the steep roads there.  Cpl. Williams expects there to be even more of these incidents in the days ahead.

"We want everybody to stay safe during this period," he said. "With cold temperatures, we don't know how long – it may be a longer period of time, it may be two or three days – before the roads clear up due to the extreme temperatures that are forecasted."

With the expected increase in weather-related calls and accidents, state police are trying to keep their phone lines open for only emergencies. Troopers urge people to not call the local ASP headquarters with questions about road conditions right now. Instead, people should dial the AHTD road condition hotline at 1-800-245-1672.

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