Icy roads make for messy morning commute

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  • Erin Futrell of Easthampton calls AAA after her car slid off an icy section in the 400 block of Park Hill Road in Northampton on Wednesday morning. Responding with assistance were Northampton Police Sgt. Patrick Moody and Capt. Vic Caputo. Because of the glaze ice, Moody parked his cruiser at the bottom of the hill and walked to the scene. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Erin Futrell, right, of Easthampton calls AAA after her car slid off an icy section in the 400 block of Park Hill Road in Northampton on Wednesday morning. Responding with assistance were Northampton Police Capt. Vic Caputo, left, and Sgt. Patrick Moody. Because of the glaze ice, Moody parked his cruiser at the bottom of the hill and walked to the scene. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A Northampton Department of Public Works truck sands the eastbound lane of Park Hill Road on Wednesday morning. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 1/5/2022 11:48:03 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Numerous vehicles involved in fender-benders and traveling off roads marked the morning commute Wednesday as icy roads plagued the region.

On Interstate 91 in Northampton, multiple crashes occurred in the southbound lanes, just past Exit 26 and in the vicinity of the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, around 8:30 a.m. State Police blocked the passing lane to accommodate the towing of vehicles that slid off the road into the median and guardrails.

At 10:15 a.m., the Massachusetts Department of Transportation issued an advisory for people in the Pioneer Valley to only travel if necessary, and to delay trips until noon.

“MassDOT crews have been chemically treating and salting roadways, but rain, freezing rain and light snow in some regions has impacted travel,” a MassDOT spokeswoman Kristen Pennucci said in a statement.

The warning also stated that Route 2 between Orange and Templeton had to be closed following several crashes on that stretch of highway.

The Northampton Police Department issued a traffic advisory, urging, “If possible, AVOID DRIVING.” Emergency personnel “responded to multiple reports of motor vehicle collisions across the city,” according to the advisory, and “cars are off the streets across the city.”

Traffic incidents were reported at the intersection of King Street at Damon Road, on State Street, Burts Pit Road, Kennedy Road in Leeds, Glendale Road and elsewhere. Due to iced-over sidewalks, police also urged caution while walking.

In Hadley, cars were pulled over along several roads across town during the morning commute, including Route 9, as public safety officials responded to vehicle collisions and other emergencies.

Hadley Police Lt. Mitchell Kuc said emergency calls began around 8 a.m., with about a dozen cars that slid off the roads and four crashes, none with personal injuries.

Kuc said arriving police and firefighters found that Hockanum Road, South Maple Street and Mill Valley Road were impassable due to the ice.

“We estimate between 100 to 200 cars on all three roads that were unable to move due to the icy conditions,” Kuc said.

Hadley Fire Chief Michael Spanknebel said the only town property damaged during the incidents was a fire hydrant.

In Amherst, Department of Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring said conditions had improved by 10:30 a.m. But the precipitation that came later in the morning than had been forecast created the perfect storm for impacting commuters.

“Freezing rain, treatment of roads and people trying to get to work, it made things kind of messy,” Mooring said.

Easthampton Police reported “extremely” icy conditions and some minor collisions, but the Department of Public Works told a Gazette reporter around 10:45 a.m. that the city’s roads had been treated and road conditions had improved. The city did not close Mountain Road.

The slippery conditions were not confined to the roads but also affected people trying to walk on sidewalks.

In Plainfield, Fire Chief David Alvord said that early snow turned into rain without ice forming.

“It warmed up really fast,” Alvord said.

Staff writer Bera Dunau contributed reporting.


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