200 miles of I-10, bridges close in Panhandle

Published On: Jan 29 2014 09:57:38 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 29 2014 08:12:11 PM EST

The Florida Department of Transportation closed nearly 200 miles of Interstate 10 -- from the Florida-Alabama line to Gadsden County -- and the highway may not reopen until Friday.

At least a half-dozen bridges in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties were partially or completely closed Wednesday morning due to icing or crashes blocking the highway.

"The bridges are icing over and people aren't, don't recognize the ice, and when they hit it, they lose control of their cars and end up crashing," said FHP Capt. Mark Welch.

Other road closures announced by FDOT at 3 p.m. Wednesday:

Bay County

Escambia County

Liberty County

Okaloosa County

Walton County

Equipment is loaded with dry sand and crews are deployed to affected areas. Crews are monitoring closed roadways for conditions and stranded motorists and electronic message signs are updating motorists on conditions.

With weather conditions expected to deteriorate through the day Wednesday, FDOT encourages residents to stay indoors and avoid venturing out unless it is an emergency.

Motorists are reminded to be watchful of other drivers and road conditions and to be on the lookout for iced roads. The combination of moisture and freezing temperatures are ideal to form patches of ice on roads. Drivers should remain alert and drive with care. Drivers are reminded to use caution and drive at a reduced speed during this time.

The Florida Department of Transportation has opened a call center to assist motorists in Northwest Florida. Drivers can call 888-638-0250 and ask for extension 1199 or dial direct to 850-330-1199. The center is operational until 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- all times central.

Drivers may also call Florida 511 or access FL511.com from their mobile phones for updates.

The Pensacola News Journal reported that thousands of residents lost power, and Gulf Power had multiple crews out repairing lines.