Tropical Storm Lee made a quite a mess on Highway 90. Strong winds pushed tons of sand onto the busy beach highway while the heavy rains only made matters worse.
M-DOT workers have moved this mountain before. Tropical storm systems are notorious for blanketing Highway 90 with tons of sand from the adjoining beach.
"We're trying to get the sand out of the road," said M-DOT Area Superintendent Henderson "Speedy" Rettig. "The storm has blowed in, some of the rain has washed in. We're in the process of attempting to get it out of the road now."
Heavy equipment and workers from all across the district are assigned to this perennial project. The biggest challenge still comes from Mother Nature.
"We've got rain that keeps coming in, that stops us when it comes in. Hopefully, the sand will stay wet and it'll quit blowing."
Driving the sand-covered roadway is not only difficult, it can easily become dangerous. And with several M-DOT crews and lots of heavy equipment at work, drivers need to stay off of 90.
Rettig said, "90 is dangerous right now. We're doing everything we can to get it drivable, but right now they need to stay off 90. It can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. It creates wash boards when it's wet like this. You have humps in the road. Any of that can cause a vehicle to lose control and have an accident."
Once it's loaded into dump trucks, the sand is stockpiled at the Courthouse Road boat ramp parking lot. This important storm clean-up project that began on Saturday will be finished as the weather allows.
"It's going to depend on when the winds lay down and how much more rain we're going to get, whether we get any more washing in, whether we get any more blowing in."
Again, the best advice is to stay off Highway 90 until this sand removal is finished. Find an alternate route if you can. And if you must travel the beach highway, take it slowly and be aware of M-DOT crews at work.