Ice Leads To Five-Hour Gridlock on the ‘Stack'


Friends of Rodney Cuevas formed a joke Twitter campaign to free him when he was struck in a five-hour traffic jam at the Interstate 55 and Interstate 20 "stack" due to icy conditions yesterday.

On a day that many Jacksonians suffered long commutes, Rodney Cuevas still had an exceptional evening. Cuevas left his job at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for his home in Brandon a little before 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Cuevas says that he was approaching the Interstate 55 South and Interstate 20 East split when traffic slowed to a complete stop. All told, he spent five hours in traffic at the Interstate 55 and Interstate 20 "stack."

"I may have moved a tenth of a mile in four and a half hours," Cuevas said. "It was pretty crazy. ... Toward the end, a lot of people were abandoning their cars."

With a half tank of gas, Cuevas was able to keep his car running, and heated, during the long wait.

"The thing that concerned me was elderly people and parents with young children," Cuevas said.

Cuevas occupied himself by dispatching information on Twitter, where friends started up a joke campaign with the hashtag "#freecuev."

"I found it quite amusing," Cuevas said. "There were no helicopters that came over."

Mississippi Department of Transportation spokesperson Carrie Adams said that an 18-wheeler jackknifed near the U.S. 49 South exit on Interstate 20 east around 3:45 p.m. due to icy roads, despite a layer of de-icing material that MDOT crews had applied earlier in the day. Around the same time, between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., the "flyover," or elevated section of Interstate 20, east froze and became impassable, Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. James Walker said. Roughly 10 cars were stranded on the flyover.

The Highway Patrol then closed the stack up to the Interstate 55 and Interstate 20 split. Walker maintained, however, that MDOT crews did not apply de-icing material to the Interstate 20 flyover. Ice and smaller collisions were the primary cause of the backup, he said.

With traffic backed up all around the stack, MDOT de-icing crews could not get to and from frozen sections of road quickly, further delaying commuters, Adams said.

Traffic finally began moving between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., when highway patrolmen began diverting traffic to other thoroughfares.

MDOT will be vigilant in monitoring road conditions this evening, Adams said. Walker said that the Highway Patrol will pay special attention to the stack area to avoid repeating yesterday's problems.

Previous Comments


When I initially saw this headline in my inbox, for a moment I thought it was referring to Ward 1 contender Patricia Ice. That could lend itself to a great campaign!


It took the geniuses at MDOT how long to think - hey, maybe I should divert traffic around the dangerous spots?



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