Cold weather ignites hot tempers on roadways |

Cold weather ignites hot tempers on roadways

Tempers were flaring at a Highway 20 chain control checkpoint when a motorist refused to put chains on his car during the latest snowstorm, Caltrans officials said Tuesday.

A Caltrans worker called California Highway Patrol officers Monday morning for assistance after he was threatened by a motorist who ignored orders to use chains. The man reportedly parked his gold sedan in the middle of the road in front of the 5 Mile House, causing a traffic hazard.

“You have to put on chains in a designated chain control area,” said Caltrans Public Affairs Specialist Shelly Chernicki. “He didn’t want to, and words were exchanged.”

She said after the man refused to move from the middle of the road and the CHP showed up, “he was nice as pie,” promptly installed chains and drove away without further incident.

Chernicki, who said she used to screen trucks for chains years ago on local highways, said incidents like Monday’s outburst happen all of the time during major storm events.

“When you have these long stints of weather everybody’s patience starts getting frayed,” she said Tuesday. “Motorists start venting at chain control and the employees start receiving the brunt of it.”

The CHP’s presence, Chernicki said, usually quells such confrontations.

On roads within city limits, however, motorists managed to control their tempers during Tuesday’s morning commute with several weather-related incidents:

• At 6:53 a.m., the CHP requested the police close Idaho-Maryland Road between Brunswick Road and Sutton Way.

• At 6:55 a.m., a caller reported a big rig was blocking the roadway on East Main Street and Dorsey Drive.

• At 6:56 a.m., a caller reported a vehicle was stuck in a ditch off of Highway 174 at Partridge Road.

• At 7:14 a.m., a caller reported a disabled vehicle at Colfax Avenue and Memorial Lane.

• At 7:14 a.m., police helped get a disabled vehicle out of the roadway at Hughes Road and Ridge Road.

• At 7:39 a.m., a caller reported a tree was down and blocking Red Dog Road at Cedar Springs Road.

• At 7:50 a.m., a vehicle was stuck in the roadway on East Main Street at Holiday Way. Police provided a ride for the driver.

• At 8 a.m., a caller reported a big-rig was blocking McCourtney Road at Thoroughbred Loop. The road was closed while the Nevada Department of Transportation removed the big-rig.

• At 8:01 a.m., a vehicle was stuck in the middle of the intersection at Hughes Road and Presley Drive.

• At 8:10 a.m., a caller from the 200 block of Nevada Street reported a vehicle was blocking the roadway.

Chernicki recommends motorists continue to exercise patience on local roads throughout the weekend, while navigating traffic caused by skiers headed to and from the ski slopes.

“The weekend will probably be a bear,” Chernicki said. “People need to be prepared for delays.”

California motor vehicle law requires all vehicles carry chains in the Sierra from October through April, she said. To learn more about local chain control requirements, go to:


To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail or call 477-4236.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User