Snowbanks along the barriers of Milwaukee’s elevated highways are a major threat to drivers. Less than two weeks ago, a pickup truck launched off of the snowbanks on the ‘Zoo’ interchange down to another roadway 70 feet below. It’s happened again: On Sunday, another driver plunged off of another elevated highway in Milwaukee.
In this latest video obtained by WISN 12 News and featured in a report, a woman lost control of her car on the Marquette interchange, hit the snowbank lining the sides of the highway, then plunged to the highway below. The car crashed into a second elevated section of highway during its long fall. Miraculously, this driver survived too.
The driver was taken to a nearby hospital and is expected to survive. However, she was arrested for drunk driving.
So how do these shoulders turn into icy ramps? The snowy shoulders are a result of snowplowing. When plow trucks clear the main driving lanes, the snow gets pushed into the shoulder. Milwaukee County’s highway director said after the last plunge that the melting and freezing process of the snow buildup creates ramps. It gets worse as the snow becomes as “hard as concrete”.
The highway director noted last week that crews clear the roads first and then go back and remove snow build-up from bridges and ramps after the initial snow clearing.
I frequently drive through the Milwaukee area and these icy snow buildups can be seen covering highway interchanges several hours past the last snowfall. It’s similar here in Illinois. On one occasion, an uncleared shoulder saved my car from damage after I spun out in the snow right towards the barrier.
Being proactive seems to be a good solution. My local county road department often clears the shoulders on a bridge at the same time that they are clearing the driving lanes. Drivers also need to adjust speed for the conditions and make sure that their vehicles are properly equipped for the weather.
Hopefully, this latest string of crashes makes Milwaukee consider new ways of clearing the snow piles sooner to make driving safer.