Over the past two weeks, eight semitrailers have lost control on a section of I-15 in Southern Utah, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
When the roads are slick, the semis are jack-knifing, sliding, and rolling off the road in the area known as the “Black Ridge” near Leeds between mile markers 27 and 33. Just this past weekend, Utah Highway Patrol troopers announced four semis crashed.
“That stretch of I-15 has a lot of grade change,” UDOT Southwest Area engineer Tracy Munson said. “We drop from 4,000 feet to 2,000 feet in a very short distance.”
Munson told ABC4 News that Black Ridge is an infamous crash-prone section of I-15 because snow tends to become slush. But in these recent cases, he said passenger cars and trucks aren’t crashing like the semis.
“Whatever it is that’s happening, it seems to be affecting the semis more in these areas, but we do encourage everyone to slow down in adverse weather,” said Munson.
Kevin Kitchen, the UDOT spokesperson for Southern and Central Utah, said engineers are meeting with several maintenance crews and coordinating with UHP this week to review reports from each crash to find any correlations.
While the exact cause of the accidents is currently unknown, UDOT officials said they recently micro-surfaced that section of the roadway, and crews believe that treatment might be a factor after performing a skid-resistance test Tuesday. The roadway was determined to be in “fair” condition, meaning traction becomes limited in adverse weather.
No one has been injured in these crashes. UDOT engineers are looking to possibly grind the surface of the roadway to increase friction in the next couple weeks; in the meantime, crews want all drivers to slow down, especially in inclement weather.
“Under normal driving conditions, we wouldn’t expect to have any problems. But when we do have that adverse weather and wet roads, it does limit the traction,” Munson said.
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