Pond vanishes, but road safety is a concern

Does ODOT plan to fix the "pond" that developed at the just-completed Interstate 5 northbound on-ramp at the new Ashland overpass? I drove through there Tuesday, and there was a huge pond of water. I wonder if they are aware and will fix it?

— Greg G., Ashland

Well, Greg, they are aware of the concern, because we passed it on to them. And the good public servants that they are at the Oregon Department of Transportation, they promptly went to the intersection to check it out. Alas, when they got there, no pond.

The Ashland maintenance manager for ODOT checked it out and found no standing water at either Ashland interchange. They say it's possible that what you saw was the remnant of water from the deluge that hit the area Tuesday morning.

Never one to miss an opportunity, however, ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming suggested that we pass along some safety tips for winter driving. Here are a few of them:

  • Slow down, especially through high water. Driving through several inches of water at high speed can cause you to lose control of the car; it could also splash water into the engine and stall it. Lowering your speed helps you prepare for sudden stops caused by disabled cars, debris and other wet-weather hazards.
  • If it hasn't rained in a while, expect road surfaces to be slick when it does start raining. Engine oil and grease build up on the road over time. When mixed with water from rain, the road can become slick. The first few hours of a fresh rain can be the most dangerous.
  • Turn on your headlights to improve visibility.
  • Disengage your cruise control.
  • Keep your distance. A car needs two to three times more stopping distance on wet roads.
  • Watch for hydroplaning conditions. Hydroplaning occurs when your front tires ride on a film of water. It can occur at speeds as low as 35 mph, especially if tires are worn. If you hydroplane, ease off the gas, gently apply the brakes and steer straight ahead.

You can find a full list of safe driving tips at www.oregon.gov/ODOT (see "Popular Topics" and click on "Winter Driving Tips.")

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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