Gardiner firefighters and police stop traffic Wednesday on Highland Avenue after rain formed ice and a car snapped a utility pole in the city. Crashes were reported across the region as freezing rain fell for much of the day. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Wednesday’s freezing rain created slick driving conditions across central Maine resulting in a number of crashes and slide-offs, authorities said.

Maine State Police tweeted Wednesday afternoon they were “triaging multiple crashes” on Interstate 95, mostly between Augusta and Newport.

Shannon Moss, public information officer for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said all the crashes were weather-related, and by mid-afternoon only one of the crashes resulted in minor injuries. In that incident, a northbound vehicle going too fast for conditions rolled over into the median at mile marker 132 in Fairfield.

The crashes prompted the state police to advise drivers to reduce speed and drive with care.

The slick conditions were the result of freezing rain moving through the region Wednesday.

“For the most part, we had a lot of precipitation move over the area (Wednesday),” said Greg Cornwell, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Gray office.

In Litchfield, a vehicle slid off Route 126 around 1 p.m., near Cobbosseecontee Stream and the West Gardiner town line.

While the incident was initially reported as a vehicle in the water, Litchfield Fire Chief Michael Sherman said the vehicle struck some trees after leaving the road on a curve, which stopped it from entering the water. The vehicle’s single occupant was treated at the scene by Gardiner Ambulance Service paramedics for injuries that were not considered life-threatening and was taken to a hospital.

A snowplow operator waits for police Wednesday on Highland Avenue in Gardiner after a truck rear-ended it. Crashes were reported across the region as freezing rain fell for much of the day. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Freezing rain was expected to continue falling into Wednesday evening in areas north of Augusta and Waterville, in southern Somerset and Franklin counties, Cornwell said, perhaps followed by some snow showers.

But because surface temperatures were expected to rise above freezing in northern Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties and across southern Kennebec County, icy conditions were not expected to linger.

“Thursday will be a nice day before another system approaches on Friday,” he said.

Cornwell said some light snow is expected to move through the area, bringing possibly 2 to 4 inches of snow to the region.

Lt. Brandon Kane of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department said numerous crashes had been reported around the county, Officials in other areas of central Maine reported less activity.

A city of Gardiner plow attempts to salt a portion of River Road to assist a jackknifed tractor-trailer on Wednesday. Crashes were reported across the region as freezing rain fell for much of the day. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

In Augusta, Deputy Police Chief Kevin Lully said by mid-afternoon no crashes had been reported in the state’s capital city.

“The Augusta Public Works has done a tremendous job maintaining our travel ways,” Lully said. “(We) encourage everyone to be safe and drive with due diligence for the impending weather.”

Morning Sentinel staff writer Evan Houk contributed to this report.

 

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