Winter Weather Keeps Local Trucking Operations at a Standstill

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) - My first assignment once I made it safely into the news station Tuesday morning was to head down toward south Huntsville to check on road conditions there.

Elevated portions of Memorial Parkway were closed off so I had to take Bailey Cove all the way to Hobbs Road in order to check on conditions at the Whitesburg Bridge on the Madison/Morgan County line.

It was on my way there traveling back roads that I noticed something you usually don't see cruising around residential areas.

At the traffic light at the intersection of California Street and Whitesburg Drive, an 18 wheeler huffed to a halt next to my news vehicle.

The truck driver rolled his window down and began frantically waving his arm out the window in order to get my attention.

He was hailing from Dalton, Georgia with an empty truck, headed back to the Atlanta area to pick up another load of freight.

He seemed altogether lost.

He asked how to get back on the interstate.

I felt pretty helpless, unable to offer any substantive advice.

He couldn't take the Parkway, couldn't take Highway 72 and certainly couldn't access Interstate 565.

I shrugged and apologized and simply told the man, "looks like you may just have to find a parking lot and sit tight for a while."

Wayward big rigs may become a common sight over the next couple of days as we wait for the second round of snow expected as early as Tuesday night.

According to many local EMA offices, Wednesday's travel conditions are expected to be much more treacherous.

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So if you can't drive this way and you can't drive that way - which way do you go? Well, in this weather, you simply don't. We spoke to one local trucking company who can certainly vouch for that.

FirstFleet, Inc. has a trucking yard in Madison. They haul sheets of cardboard for International Paper all over the southeast from Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Bay Minette.

According to FirstFleet officials, their fleet may as well be up on blocks in the winter weather.
According to FirstFleet officials, their fleet may as well be up on blocks in the winter weather.

The 25 to 30 employees the company averages on the roads at any given time were still out today's slushy conditions - but Administrative Assistant and FirstFleet Dispatcher Renee Solomon says that will all change Tuesday night.

"Well it holds us up, you know, we have to slow down or just stop altogether and reschedule - push it out to the next day," says Solomon.

That plan, of course, is not cause for tons of confidence given what's expected for Wednesday. The confidence level in making contingency plans is trickling down to the drivers as well. According to Solomon, many drivers are choosing to stay put at home Tuesday night into Wednesday.

"They don't want to ruin their license by having an accident; risking and talking a chance on going out."

Meanwhile, workload continues to be pushed back - even into the weekend. Cardboard hauling operations for the time being?

"It's kind of at a standstill to see how the weather pans out until tomorrow morning."

In the interest of employee safety, FirstFleet will have to take the delays on the chin, along with fellow businesses, trucking or otherwise.

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