Why are the highways in better shape than Wichita streets?

Published On: Feb 06 2014 06:35:38 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 06 2014 06:56:23 PM CST

Below freezing temperatures keep roads icy. That means drivers are still facing dangerous driving conditions. In Wichita some streets are worse than others. One viewer asked us why highways are clear, but most city roads are not.

"It (the highway) was clear this morning, very clear," said Christine Clemons who was out driving Thursday.

To all appearances it's back to normal on the highways around Wichita.

"I think that people are driving a little bit too fast even though the roads are pretty clear," said Ali Thomas, another driver.

But the city streets are still a mess.

"I'm surprised at how much ice is still on the roads," said Christiane Doom, who was out driving with her children.

"Some of the intersections seem like they're sanded a little bit better," said Doug Robertson. "And, there seems to be ice and everything seems to be pretty slick."

The city told Eyewitness News a lot of the mess has to do with the way the roads are built. At street level the gutters and curbs turn them into a bowl that holds the snow in. Whereas the flatter highway with ditches on the side is easier to clear.

Plus, the city says all those cars traveling slowly over the road, stopping at intersections and stop lights, helps pack the snow down and make it harder to plow up.

Finally, the city says it has fewer resources and more road to plow than the state, which clears the highways.

The city clears 1500 lane miles of emergency routes, compared to the state's 1200 lane miles of highway. That's not counting the 3500 lane miles the city doesn't clear due to safety, insurance and equipment concerns.

The state does have fewer plows, 23 to the city's 50. But those plows can move faster on the highway.

"Well, I think they worked really hard on the highways," said Clemons.

The state says the greater number of vehicles traveling faster on the highways actually helps melt the snow and ice faster. That's because of friction, sort of like when you rub your hands together real fast and they get hot.