Rain froze on frigid roads overnight, creating dangerous conditions that resulted in numerous accidents, including multi-car collisions, and road closures.
"This the worst type of winter weather you could have," said PennDOT spokesman Eugene Blaum. "We would much rather than six inches of snow."
Eastbound traffic was crossing the Passayunk Avenue Bridge again by 8:30 a.m., but both lanes had been closed since about midnight, because of a series of crashes involving about 20 vehicles, according TV reports.
For hours, according to tow truck driver, vehicles kept sliding and colliding on a treacherous stretch of Kelly Drive between Strawberry Mansion Bridge and Boathouse Row.
"We must have towed at least 10," said June Orama, 40. "Me, personally I towed four."
"You had some idiots, but you had people who were really not driving that fast," he said. "As I was there standing, I was watching cars already in the accident get hit by new cars."
The first accident happened around 2 a.m., the last one around 8, he said.
Driving in the area remained hazardous through rush hour, even as rising temperatures had reached the mid 30s, heading toward the upper 40s this afternoon.
Shortly before 8:30 a.m., accidents were scattered across the western suburbs, including Lower Merion, Easttown, Tredyffrin, and East Goshen Townships, according to traffic.com.
SEPTA was reporting rail delays because of icy conditions.
The National Weather Service was also advising that freezing rain could persist until about 10 a.m. in counties west and north of Philadelphia - from West Chester to Trenton.
For a list of the latest problems, click this link: www.traffic.com/Philadelphia-Traffic/Philadelphia-Traffic-Incidents.html.
Deliveries of the Inquirer and Daily News were also delayed this morning, mostly because of multiple shutdowns of Routes 23, 76 and 476.
One truckload of papers ran into a guard rail - twice.
After driver Dave Westerfer slid a guard rail on a Blue Route ramp, the load was transferred to a second truck - which traveled about 50 feet before striking the guard rail again.
At 6:30 this morning, these problems were reported by traffic.com:
Route 1 (Roosevelt Boulevard): closed in both directions between Wyoming Avenue and Mascher Street due to icy conditions. This section is north of Broad Street.
Westbound I-76: jammed for miles because of an accident near I-476 (Blue Route).
Northbound I-476 (Blue Route): Ramp to eastbound I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway) closed due to I-76 accident.
Southbound Rt. 202: closed between Rt. 401 and Rt. 301 due to icy conditions.
Rt. 309 in Bucks County: closed between County Line Road and Bethlehem Pike due to icy conditions.
Roxborough: Henry Avenue closed between Hermitage and Jannette Streets.
Eastbound Pennsylvania Turnpike: closed at Harrisburg East (Exit 247) due to accident.
Ben Franklin Bridge: speed limit reduced to 25 mph.
For more advisories and maps, go to http://go.philly.com/traffic.
The problems were even more numerous overnight.
The westbound Schuylkill had an jack-knifed tractor-trailer, and a bus accident that triggered perhaps 10 additional collisions, according to 6ABC.com.
Around 2 a.m. an SUV hit a utility pole in Upper Moreland, knocking out power for a block, while in Oaklyn, near the Walt Whitman Bridge, a tractor trailer was involved in a five-vehicle crash, the TV station also reported.
PennDOT had 270 trucks out salting roads in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburban counties, Blaum said.
Nothing was done for drivers, though, on Kelly Drive, Orama said.
"The road was never closed and was never salted," the tow-truck driver said.
Blaum explained that PennDOT handles only a half-dozen expressways in Philadelphia.
The city's Streets Department is responsible for local roads, like Kelly Drive, he said.
Some drivers there were so afraid to drive, Orama said, they parked their cars off the side of the road and caught some sleep.