MEDFORD, Ore. – Several cars crashed along a very icy Biddle Road Tuesday morning as the airport conducted fog seeding, and now it has airport officials and road crews examining its communication procedures.
Around 9 a.m., Medford Police, firefighters, and ambulances responded to Biddle Road south of the airport after several cars crashed and spun out. One vehicle lost control on near Fisher Avenue, clipped a passing car and rammed into the curb, which flipped it on its side. The driver was not injured. Police say minutes later, a pickup traveling south on Biddle spun out after going too fast and hit another pickup going northbound. Neither driver was hurt in that crash either. Employees at Cascade Athletic Supply said another driver spun out along Fisher Ave., and took out two bushes and a stop sign.
Because of thick, freezing fog in the morning, airport workers began fog seeding to improve visibility. The process pulls the moisture out of the air as ice particles. Police said the process can make the roads especially slick, and can be dangerous if drivers go too fast.
Airport spokesperson Kim Stearns said the airport sends out notices about the fog seeding to ODOT road crews and the emergency dispatch center. ODOT maintains state highways with plows and de-icer trucks if the fallout is too thick or icy on the roads.
But Stearns admitted that the airport does not send notice to Medford Public Works, which is in charge of maintaining Biddle Road. She said she was previously under the impression that the emergency dispatch center would inform Medford Public Works staff about the effects of fog seeding on nearby roads.
Public Works Director Cory Crebbin said his office has not been receiving fog seeding notice from the airport for several years. Because the fog seeding only lasts for a short time in the morning, Crebbin said his employees often do not know about the road conditions until they have already improved. And if the road freezes before it can be treated, plows are useless and only skip over the surface.
Crebbins said he now wants to establish better communication between the airport and Public Works. Airport officials also said they would be contacting Public Works to discuss the communication problem.
Medford Police said today saw the first two accidents on Biddle since Friday, when the airport began fog seeding this week.