Fog, red light slow morning commute

Friday, February 4, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:58 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Freezing fog and a faulty traffic light at Providence Road and Broadway delayed Columbia commuters on Thursday morning. The fog descended on the city at about midnight Wednesday and continued until noon Thursday. The conditions caused poor visibility, allowing people to see only a quarter mile. Arno Perlow, data acquisition program manager with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, characterized freezing fog as “a dense fog with temperatures below the freezing mark.”

Perlow said low temperatures cause the moisture from the fog to freeze when it hits surfaces, covering the road with a slick glaze.

During the adverse weather, overhead cameras that control the traffic light at Providence Road and Broadway malfunctioned. The light facing westbound drivers on Broadway was stuck on red for about 30 minutes.

Chuck Matalski, an operator with Public Safety Joint Communications, said the center learned about the situation at 7:24 a.m. After the call, two Columbia police officers were dispatched to the intersection to help. Officer Gene Williams arrived first and reset the control box for the lights.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is responsible for the traffic light and was also notified.

Resetting the lights allows them to cycle temporarily until they can be fixed permanently, said Columbia Police Officer Shelley Jones.

Nicole Hood of the Missouri Department of Transportation said the video-camera processors were replaced and the problem has been resolved.

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