Icy roads make for dicey commute in East Mountains

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EDGEWOOD, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s already been a rough day for those east of Albuquerque.

Overnight snow and early morning winds made for some dangerous road conditions.

But, most schools kept their doors open, leaving parents to maneuver the tricky roads.

The snow started falling Thursday night in the East Mountains, by morning, about an inch covered roads.

School officials say they checked the roads at 5:30 a.m. and they looked fair, but that quickly changed.

“Unfortunately, when the wind picked up, it froze things over and made it a little more complicated but we already had buses on the road, kids already starting to get picked up,” Josh McCleave, Moriarty-Edgewood School Transportation Director said.

He says the decision to keep schools open is a decision they would later regret.

Two school buses, that had yet to pick up kids, slid off the road.

One on Highway 217, south of I-40 which was one of the toughest spots Friday morning.

“I will not go down this hill until noon if I have to wait that long because there are cars off the road,” Cheryl-Lynn Larkin said.

She is a teacher who refused to drive through there, scared of sliding off the road like that bus and a pickup.

“A lot of the incidents that happened today were other drivers having accidents in various places and our buses trying to have to maneuver around them,” McCleaver said.

Two charter schools did close Friday, and many parents criticized both Moriarity and Albuquerque Public Schools East Mountain Schools for not doing the same.

“They absolutely should have had a delayed in the East Mountains,” Larkin said.

School officials say it’s always a juggling act.

“Because we have to make our decision so early with such a big district its always and tough judgment call,” McCleaver explained.

He added they also get angry calls when they do close or delay from people who don’t think it’s so bad, like Dean Smith.

“When I was younger we’d have like half a foot sometimes before they’d actually have to cancel so not a big deal I don’t think,’ Smith said.

It’s no doubt a decision these mountain schools will have to make again in the near future.

“Hopefully we get the call right next time,” McCleaver said.

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