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Traffic Team fundraisers to benefit Toys for Tots Captain Herb loved so much. He loved his family, his job, his colleagues and his community. One of the many charities he helped was metro Atlanta Toys for Tots. To honor his legacy, the WSB Traffic Team still hosts his annual toy drive at Fred’s BBQ House, and it’s quite a show! Bring the family, and plan to join them and the Douglas County community this holiday season on Saturday, December 8th in Lithia Springs. Two events prior to that which will take place this fall are the 2nd annual Tossing for Tots Disc Golf Tournament and the Atlanta-area Toys for Tots Golf Tournament! To get involved in the disc golf tournament on September 29th in Henry Co., you can now REGISTER HERE. Stay tuned for information pertaining to the golf tournament, which will take place November 9th at Bear’s Best Atlanta in Suwanee! Call our traffic center with traffic incident 24/7/365 at 404-897-7358. You can also get through to us using the “Triple Team Traffic Alerts” app, free in your phone’s app store! The app provides real-time, traffic incidents recorded by WSB radio traffic reporters.

The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • The last two Gridlock Guy columns galvanized plenty of reaction. Two weeks ago, I talked about how becoming hands-free behind the wheel can produce its own, new distractions. And then I covered the mess surrounding two different Peachtree Road closures near 26th Street this summer. People are passionate about helping others and about their commutes and I want to address a couple of comments. I love the passion. » RELATED: What Georgia's Hands-Free Driving Law bans and allows First, some readers suggested that my saying the new law is distracting lumps me in the same chorus of dissenters who opposed the Hands Free Georgia Act. That simply isn’t true. I think those that presumed my being against the law only read the headline of the piece. I wrote a whole month’s worth of Gridlock Guys consecutively explaining the law and advocating that people obey it. The WSB Traffic Team and I did several talk shows with bill sponsor Rep. John Carson and other officials and experts to explain the rules changes. But the headline, which I composed, can be deceiving out of context. Really, the goal of that piece is to warn anyone trying to become hands-free behind the wheel of several things. First, getting legal can produce a level of comfort that suddenly justifies other distracting behavior. Second, even legal actions on mobile devices or infotainment systems in vehicle dashboards are still distracting. And finally, implementing the hands-free technology itself can become an entirely new distraction. None of this is to say that the law is bad. In fact, just writing it was a reset moment for me about how important staying focused on driving is. Several other readers also sent in emails saying that all of the problems with new distractions would be moot if people simply just didn’t engage their phones at all while driving. They suggested throwing the phone in the glove box, tossing it in the backseat, or turning it off. These actions would be effective, but they aren’t realistic. The toothpaste is far outside of the tube and can’t get back in there. People are going to use their phones and drive; they have for many years. So the goal is limiting that use and the new hands-free law places a definitive line to help enforce the law: holding the phone. If police can enforce texting better, they can help curb the most dangerous thing people do on phones.  » RELATED: How to get legal for the Hands-Free Georgia Act for cell phone law Banning phones completely just would not work. Cars are becoming more advanced with integrating devices. And Georgia lawmakers even had to water down the newest law. Remember, the original Hands-Free Georgia Act was to limit touching phones to one swipe or one touch to answer. They had to settle on allowing all types of phone call-use, as long as the phones aren’t being held. Outside of the driver’s seat, the big Peachtree Road/southbound double-lane closure in Buckhead elicited plenty of letters from our readers. Most comments echoed my points on the absolute lack of coordination and effort to speed up the repair. The City of Atlanta Department of Water Management emailed me well after my writing deadline to say that cement from a project got accidentally poured into the sewer and then hardened. That is why they had to replace the sewer line. But they did not explain why workers weren’t working longer hours to fix it, if the repair in June caused the problem in August, or why there was great communication on the first closure but very little on the second occurence. Both subjects of the last two Gridlock Guy columns should be reminders that both drivers and the government have domain on how our commutes go. We have a responsibility to drive safely and respect others and the recipients of our taxes have the duty of performing their jobs efficiently and with the goal of keeping the traffic moving. Both sides could do much better. Regardless of the tone, hearing from all of you is one of the biggest benefits of writing this column. Keep the notes coming and I will do my best to respond. Thanks for reading and please keep turning here and tuning to Triple Team Traffic on News 95.5/AM750 WSB and Channel 2 Action News every day. » RELATED: Georgia hands free cell phone law: How to win in court Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Undoubtedly one of the busiest and most iconic stretches of road within the Atlanta city limits is Peachtree. In Midtown and Downtown Atlanta it’s “Peachtree Street”. Head up to the Brookwood Amtrak station — a place that some (including me) have attempted to call “Uptown” — and this famous artery changes to “Peachtree Road.” One could call it “Calorie Row,” as the crowded corridor between Deering Road and Collier Road is chock full of area favorites. But for a 10-day stretch, patrons seeking their Egg Harbor, Sufi’s, R. Thomas, Ted’s, Uncle Julio’s, and Bell St. Burritos fixes found themselves ensnared in a big-time bottleneck. And it’s happened twice this summer. » RELATED: Portion of Peachtree Road closed for emergency sewer line replacement The City of Atlanta had to pare down Peachtree/southbound to just one left lane between Collier Road and 26th Street. The news release the city sent out Thursday, Aug. 23, came three days after the major closure began. The highly inconvenient and unannounced double-right lane interruption started during the day on Monday the 20th and appeared to the WSB Traffic Team and me that it would only last until the afternoon drive started. Hardly. “At first, only a right lane was blocked,” Triple Team Traffic’s midday co-anchor Veronica Harrell explained. “But the next day only a left lane and sometimes only the turn lane was open. Needless to say, during lunchtime, traffic would back up well before Peachtree Battle causing a major jam for people traveling from Buckhead in to Midtown.” I noticed these delays every afternoon from my perch in the WSB Skycopter. And Northside Drive would stack up, as it is the nearest north-south major artery. Using the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App, we advised motorists to also consider using Piedmont Road through Buckhead, as it was moving better than Northside. Regardless of the warnings we gave on our app and on News 95.5/AM750 WSB constantly, traffic would stack up to the tune of sometimes more than 45 minute delays. The city stated in the aforementioned news release that they had to replace the sewer line. Incidentally, Atlanta’s infamous sewer system caused a closure of similar proportions in almost the exact same spot earlier this summer. The Friday, June 22, Peachtree/southbound sewer closure at 26th Street came with far more fanfare. GDOT officials reached out to WSB Traffic as soon as they learned of the closure and stayed in touch that day as details unfolded. The city said it felt that the road would open in a couple of days. But much like the more recent closure, the June/July version stayed out for 10 days and caused similar gridlock. The city also estimated both projects would be complete days before the work actually finished. » RELATED: Storm chances low, traffic chances high as holiday weekend begins These extended closures on a busy artery spur a few questions. First, why did the repairs take so long? For a street as busy as Peachtree, the crews could have worked longer daily and maybe even around the clock. That worked for the I-85 bridge collapse. That would have cost more money, but a hurried work pace also could have saved literally thousands of hours of productivity for Atlantans. Another question: Why is the sewer going amiss in the same area twice in such a short stretch? I reached out to the City of Atlanta for an explanation and heard nothing back by the deadline for this piece. Is the recent sewer line replacement that just finished the next phase of the emergency closure from late June? Or are the problems unrelated? Is there a recurring problem that is causing these issues and, thus, the major gridlock. Finally, why was the communication of the Peachtree closure so different between the June and August episodes? The blockage in June brought a full court press from GDOT to spread the word and local media covered it extensively. The delays were noticeably less two months ago. The city and the state made a coordinated effort to alert motorists. The recent closure was anything but coordinated. As Harrell said earlier, we discovered the delays and then found the closure; we had no warning. In fact, GDOT did not have the closure in their system until a day or two later. The City of Atlanta drafted its news release three days later. With less media coverage about this Peachtree boondoggle, the jams were definitely worse. With many questions unanswered about this particular episode of Atlanta traffic damnation, something has become apparent: Atlanta seems resigned to these occurrences. But that is aiming low. We should accept that rush hour is always going to be bad, but we should not settle for uncoordinated and possibly excessive closures like what recently took place on Peachtree. While we shouldn’t stress over the inevitable, we also shouldn’t allow our officials to get away unscathed from unforced errors. Atlanta, we can do better than that. » RELATED: East Point road open after storm pipe replacement
  • Nearly two months into the new Hands-Free Georgia Act, the new requirements are becoming a way of life. Some metrics show that traffic crashes have decreased and awareness of the law seems pervading. But another side of the coin exists when trying to both comply with the new rules and still enjoy the conveniences from our mobile devices. Following the rules can sometimes become another distraction behind the wheel. » RELATED: What Georgia's Hands-Free Driving Law bans and allows Let me switch into first-person here. I recently decided to make my 2007 Buick Rendezvous as hands-free as possible. I bought a window mount to hold the phone in a safe place. I could then use it in a limited way to make phone calls and use GPS, as the law allows. Then I bought a $40 FM-Bluetooth transmitter that powers through the car’s cigarette lighter. This then completely made my phone hands-free. But using it even in this manner is distracting. FM transmitters are far from foolproof. The signal sometimes wavers, as it competes with stations on the nearby bandwidths. The device is supposed to interact with the phone’s voice commands, so I press a button on the transmitter to talk into the phone — but that doesn’t always work. Other hands-free quirks have arisen. Answering and making calls doesn’t operate quite as well as using the phone alone. Sometimes the caller on the other line doesn’t hear me or I forget to crank the volume up on the radio. All phone audio (calls, GPS, streaming audio) operates through the FM radio, but I have to crank that volume very high to hear it. That means switching from the regular radio to phone audio is quite harsh — and distracting. The mount on the windshield is almost completely a blessing and is certainly safer than leaving my phone on the center console. But even the mount became a distraction the one time that I was adjusting the phone and it came undone. Then, against even my own advice to myself, I became determined — as I drove up I-85 — to try to fix it. Why would I do something so stupid? Because we tend to justify our bad decisions in the moment. In case you’re wondering, I did not successfully repair the mount until I parked.  » RELATED: Georgia hands-free driving law: How are drivers doing on Workday 1? One could argue that my attempts to become safer behind the wheel have made my behaviors even more dangerous. Really, that isn’t true. These innovations have made using the legal functions on my phone far safer than any risks I have incurred. But the convenience of having my incoming text and email suddenly at eye level makes the temptation far greater to interact with them. Even seeing the notifications themselves is distracting. In my comfort blanket of becoming hands-free, I justify bending the rules. My human nature leads me to thinking that briefly answering that text at a light or when I am in stopped traffic is okay — because my phone not in my hands. I think that trying to adjust and setup the Bluetooth transmitter behind the wheel is justified, because I eventually will be safer. Outside of any laws, all of these things are indisputably distracting. Your car may have the latest technology. Most mobile device conveniences are allowed through an in-car dash screen. But AAA has been extremely clear about how distracting those systems are. No matter the modern conveniences and as long as the wheel is in our hands, driving is our number one responsibility. I have written tirelessly about the new hands-free law, but I understand the struggle and temptations of our technology. I am re-committing myself to fasting as much as possible from my phone while I drive, despite my new safeguards that should help me use it more. » RELATED: WSB, AJC experts answer questions on Georgia's hands-free driving law
  • We saw a doozy on I-20 Wednesday afternoon. A tanker truck and a tractor trailer collided just after 4 p.m. on I-20/westbound just before Six Flags Dr. (exit 47) and eventually completely shut down the interstate in that direction. Traffic was a nightmare and my colleagues and I with WSB Triple Team Traffic went into hustle mode. Our Traffic Troopers, commuters who call us with info, gave us the alert before the police or GDOT did. » RELATED: I-20 reopens in Cobb County after massive fuel spill cleanup “I got the original call from traffic trooper Joey. At the time, he told me that there was a crash involving two tractor trailers and some cars,” reporter Jill Nelson said. She and teammate Alex Williams began sending both myself and Newschopper 2’s Jason Durden vital information on the crash. “The left lane was still moving at that point. By the time Alex found it on the WSB Jam Cam, they had closed all lanes.” Whereas the WSB Skycopter flies on a fixed rush hour schedule, Durden and Channel 2 Action News’ helicopter fly a la carte when various news stories break. He got to the scene within minutes and began relaying information back to us and to Channel 2 viewers both on TV and social media. The Traffic Team and I broke into programming on News 95.5/AM750 WSB with the traffic RED ALERT and also sent push notifications out on the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App and the WSB Radio App. This is Atlanta traffic’s version of a tornado warning; every second matters when someone is planning their commute. As we began to learn that this was a tanker truck overturned and that it had nearly 9,000 gallons of fuel, we knew this wouldn’t be an ephemeral closure. “When crews started spraying foam on the fuel spill, we knew it was going to be a bigger deal — then the DOT notes updated saying it was a Hazmat situation,” Williams explained. Williams discovered that at least 100 gallons of fuel had actually spilled. With this crash happening not far from the Chattahoochee River bridge, cleanup crews had to treat the cleanup with extra care. One insight that traffic reporters give that an app like Waze, Google Maps or Apple Maps cannot is just how severe or specific a problem is. When Durden, Williams, Nelson, and I processed what we were seeing, we knew this would not be the average interstate closure and we reported as much. Mike Shields joined WSB Triple Team Traffic in June and had just been on I-20, before arriving at the WSB studios in Midtown Atlanta before 5 p.m. He found out about the closure just as he pulled into the parking deck. » RELATED: Georgia roads reopen after tanker truck crash, oxygen leak “This was the largest traffic event I have covered and the domino effect on all the other interstates was unreal,” Shields said. The backup in the already stacked I-285 and I-20 interchange in Fulton County was extreme. From the WSB Skycopter, I saw I-285/southbound start jamming hard at Paces Ferry Road (exit 18) and stay slow all the way to I-20. The right lane line to exit at Hollowell Parkway (exit 12) started before the Chattahoochee River bridge, as people sought an alternate. Indeed, the impacts on side roads like Hollowell/Highway 78, Camp Creek Parkway and Highway 166 were extreme. Fulton Industrial Boulevard was jammed, as police diverted I-20/westbound traffic onto that exit before the closure. “Phone calls I received were people asking about is there any way to get around it,” Shields said. And while there technically were open roads, those alternates were gridlocked. Calls to WSB about alternate routes got trumped, however, by calls of frustration. “Most calls we got were that people were blocking emergency vehicles from passing on the shoulder and they hadn’t moved in hours,” Nelson said. And we saw this in the Skycopter: drivers stuck in the closure between Fulton Industrial (exit 49) and the crash scene began driving the wrong way on the shoulders without any directive from the police. This is completely illegal and dangerous. It prevented more rescue units from getting to the scene. Additional equipment instead had to go up to Six Flags and turn around the wrong way. We watched above as police eventually got a couple hundred vehicles turned around and exiting one at a time, the wrong way up the Fulton Industrial entrance ramp and off of the freeway. Nelson did not mince words: “I’ve covered plenty of bad crashes before, but this one stands out because of the jam that drivers caused themselves, by blocking up the shoulders. It took over two hours to finally get everyone out of there who was stuck.” » RELATED: Report finds Atlanta has some of world's worst traffic The crash cleanup eventually lasted into the night, with overnight traffic guru Steve Winslow taking the Traffic Center helm at 8:30 p.m. The crash lasted his entire shift. “The biggest issue for re-opening I-20 seemed to be the safety workers’ need to unload the overturned tanker’s load of fuel. Having to drill into a hole into the overturned tanker to siphon the combustible fuel out safely took at four hours alone,” Winslow explained. He said that this tedious process forced the closure of I-20/eastbound, the opposite direction, starting at Thornton Road (exit 44). The scene didn’t clear until almost 4:30 a.m., over 12 hours after the wreck happened. Our entire team was in unison about where this wreck ranks. “This one,” Winslow said, “made a “normal” overnight become almost as intense as a Friday evening commute.” “Aside from the [I-85] bridge collapse, this is probably the second-worst single traffic incident I’ve ever seen, due to how long it lasted and how much it impacted surface streets — even as far back as inside the Perimeter,” Williams, who joined Triple Team Traffic in 2015, recalled. And I agree with my crew. This I-20 tanker truck crash ranks as one of the worst single wrecks, in terms of traffic impact and the length of closure, that I have seen. It once again shows how vital our roads are and how just one problem can delay people for miles around for hours. The I-20 extended closure also shows how important planning your commute and keeping your radio and phone on for updates during that drive is, too. » RELATED: Metro Atlanta's 10 most consistently awful traffic hotspots Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Now that most schools have resumed, the commute out of neighborhoods gets longer. More people go back to their normal post-summer work and errands schedules, so volume increases. Delays and patience often have an inverse relationship. Drivers simply make riskier decisions and have more stress when they are in a hurry. But extra patience is mandatory in school zones. » RELATED: Traffic hassles return as metro Atlanta schools open this week “The start of the school year is a challenging time for parents because of new routines and increased traffic,” AAA spokesperson Garrett Townsend told the AJC and WSB. “We encourage anyone taking children to school to establish habits to help them stay focused on the task of driving. Extra vigilance and patience is required so that everyone can get to their destination safely.” AAA Georgia Field VP Sasha Marcincyzk shared this resonating fact in the Gridlock Guy column on this subject a year ago: children hit by cars traveling 35 mph are three times more likely to die than at 25 mph. And the highest age group at risk of pedestrian injury are children between ages 5 and 14. This message should be enough for anyone to drive with a proverbial eggshell beneath the throttle in a school zone. The July 1st advent of the Hands-Free Georgia Act plays right into this. As we have extensively covered here, the new law mandates drivers keep their phones out of their hands and imposes more restrictions on types of texting, app use, and audio streaming allowed. The law, however, does not magically eliminate distracted driving; it is another attempt to nudge motorists in the right direction. Any hands-free precautions taken on the open road should be more so in a school zone. There are more distractions and greater consequences when kids are crossing the streets and being, well, kids. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: What the new Hands-Free Georgia Act bans and allows Drivers should not gauge the caution they take simply on how recent laws have changed. House Bill 978 also went into effect on July 1st and increased automated enforcement of traffic laws around school buses, a measure met with big opposition. But it also eased the restrictions of who stops around buses. Now drivers going the opposite direction of a school bus on a multilane highway (which is two or more lanes in each direction), do not have to stop, if there is a turn lane in the middle. “Vehicles traveling in opposite direction must use caution!” Townsend emphatically explained. This softening of the law, which before only allowed oncoming vehicles to stop if there was a raised or grassy median, also met resistance. Vehicles behind stopped school buses, no matter their lane, still must stop when buses are offloading kids. Drivers in both directions still must halt on two-lane roads, even if those have turn lanes. And people violate these existing laws all the time, in the name of “I can just squeak right by” or “this is totally unnecessary.” Kids are expected to behave — so, too, must motorists. Lives are at stake. » RELATED: Why a small change in law could create danger for students AAA’s legacy School Safety Patrol Program, something I was honored to be in 20 years ago, is still going strong and is a great way to both enforce safety and teach students themselves the importance of caution and common sense. “Prior to participating in the patrol program, I really didn’t know what safety meant,” AAA Georgia School Safety Patrol of the Year, Xavier Sellers, said. The program also teaches students how to better lead their peers and even adults. “Now that I have the responsibility of keeping my school safe, I can see the importance of being a better leader and developing qualities that will help me operate with excellence.” Sellers attended Anderson Elementary School in Clayton County, which means Clayton County has produced the Safety Patrol of the Year twice in a row. Alyce Washington won the honor a year ago. Whether new laws, news stories, public service announcements, safety patrollers in neon belts, amber school-zone lights, or some mixture of all grab attention during this time, they should prompt action. Children deserve extra attention in many ways, not the least of which being behind the wheel. » RELATED: Georgia cameras may catch school-zone speeders Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.

News

  • Atlanta-based CNN is often dismissed as 'fake news' by President Donald Trump and his supporters. Seeking to prove their point, some right-wing meme creators found a photo of Anderson Cooper in waist-deep floodwater, claiming he was exaggerating and staging shots during Hurricane Florence.  >> On WSOCTV.com: Florence's aftermath: The latest updates from the Carolinas But the photo was from 2008 during Hurricane Ike in Texas, and Cooper was demonstrating the dangers of shifting depths of floodwaters.  Cooper decided to address the issue in a nine-minute segment on his show Monday in part because the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., used the meme as fodder to malign CNN on Twitter. While many people on Twitter used the images and tied them to Florence, Trump Jr. merely implied that this was fakery and designed to make his dad “look bad.”  Cooper took umbrage to that, shading Trump Jr. by showing photos of him being an “outdoorsman” killing exotic wildlife but presuming he wasn’t in North Carolina helping in rescue efforts.  >> Read more trending news  Cooper then showed the 10-year-old video of himself in waist-deep water in a flooded area of Bridge City, Texas. He was demonstrating the various depths of water in a very small area. At one point, he even made fun of himself for doing this, but added that he didn’t want to be on the dry part of the road interfering with rescue operations. Cooper said he also wanted to show that water can go deep very quickly even just a few feet off a road, and many people die in hurricanes via drowning. Cooper noted that his camera crew has to shoot on dry spots to keep the equipment from getting wet. And the tech person in the photo? He died last year, Cooper said. 
  • Americans will soon be able to try Heinz’s latest creation -- Mayochup. The ketchup company introduced the combination in Arab Gulf states earlier this year, but after being prodded to bring the product to U.S. store shelves, the company has decided to give its customers what they want and bring it to America.  All it took was a half million votes in favor (or is it flavor?) to bring the ketchup/mayo hybrid to the U.S., Esquire reported. But the question looms, what city should be able to get the first official taste? Heinz is running a poll on its Twitter page to find out. But the clock is ticking. Votes via hashtag end at 11:59 p.m. CST Tuesday. >> Read more trending news  >>Read: Heinz introduces Mayochup, mayonnaise-ketchup combo, so when will you be able to find it? “After seeing the unprecedented passion surrounding this product, including the nearly one million votes on social media and 500,000 votes in favor of bringing it stateside, launching Mayochup in the U.S. was a no-brainer,” Nicole Kulwicki, director of marketing at Heinz, told the “Today” show in a statement.
  • Tuesday is National Cheeseburger Day, and whether you like yours with “lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and French-fried potatoes. Big kosher pickle and a cold draught beer,” or if your tastes are more simple, here are some deals on the American classic. >> Read more trending news (Note: Not every restaurant in a chain may be honoring the deals, so be sure to check with local restaurants to confirm which deals are available before you go. Most offers are dine-in only and can’t be used with any other discount or coupons. Prices may vary with location.) 2nd and Charles: Get a free Bob’s Burgers cheeseburger at checkout as long as supplies last. The deal begins at 6 p.m. BurgerFi – Buy one cheeseburger, get one for $1.  IHOP: Buy an Ultimate Steakburger and get a free side of buttermilk pancakes or limited-time pumpkin spice pancakes. The deal is good from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Johnny Rockets: Buy one, get one half off for all cheeseburgers on the menu. A bonus: Buy one, get one half off for all milkshakes on the menu. McDonald’s: Order anything on the mobile app, and you get a free cheeseburger on Tuesday. Miller's Ale House: Cheeseburgers are $5.99 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. when you show a Facebook post. Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub: When you dine in, you can get a $5 cheeseburger with a choice of cheddar, Swiss or American cheese Red Robin: Get a gourmet cheeseburger with bottomless steak fries for $5 all day. Valid for dine-in only and you must purchase a beverage.  Ruby Tuesday: If you are a member of the So Connected Club, you can get a free burger with the purchase of an entree on Tuesday and Wednesday. You can join by clicking here. Roy Rogers: Get two cheeseburgers for $5 on Tuesday. Ted's Montana Grill: Get a cheeseburger and fries for $6. Dine-in only. Tony Roma's: Get $2 off any burger if you are a member of the chain’s email club. Sign up here: www.tonyromas.com. Wendy’s: Through the end of the month, you can get a free Dave’s single with your purchase when you download and use the Wendy's app. White Castle: Get one free cheese slider with purchase of anything on the menu.  Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar: If you are a VIP member you can get a Plain & Simple Burger with the option of 8 different cheese toppings, for $5. Sign up here to be a VIP member.  
  • The pressure in natural gas pipelines prior to a series of explosions and fires in Massachusetts last week was 12 times higher than it should have been, according to a letter from the state's U.S. senators to executives of the utility in charge of the pipelines. Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey sent the letter Monday seeking answers about the explosions from the heads of Columbia Gas, the company that serves the communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, and NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas. 'The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has reported that the pressure in the Columbia Gas system should have been around 0.5 pounds per square inch (PSI), but readings in the area reached at least 6 PSI — twelve times higher than the system was intended to hold,' the letter said. The pressure spike registered in a Columbia Gas control room in Ohio, the senators said in the letter, which requests a reply by Wednesday. 'We write to request that you provide us with information in order to help the American people understand why this terrible disaster occurred, whether the company was sufficiently prepared to respond to an incident of this magnitude, and how we can prevent any similar tragedy in the future,' the senators wrote. Dozens of explosions and fires last Thursday killed one person and injured more than two dozen others. About 8,600 customers were affected, and many had to evacuate their homes for days and may have to go without gas service for weeks. The explosions are under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt has said the investigation is partially focused on pressure sensors that were connected to a gas line that was being taken out of service shortly before the blasts.
  • A federal grand jury indicted 11 former FedEx Express employees and two former contractors for the U.S. Postal Service on allegations of mail theft. >> Watch the news report here The indictments were announced Monday in a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. All 13 people from Memphis, Tennessee, are facing federal charges of mail theft.  According to the indictments, the defendants targeted mail – such as gift cards and greeting cards – since “there was a strong likelihood that they contained U.S. currency.” The employees would search through the mail, remove some of the contents, and smuggle items off the premises, authorities said. The news release identified each of the former employees. They were indicted on charges of “obstruction of correspondence or theft and receipt of stolen mail matter.” >> Read more trending news  Each person is facing up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine: Braylon Butler, 25 Posely Jones, 25 Florence Guy, 23 Shamika Coleman, 39 Jamal Johnson, 39 Ronald Carter Jr., 32 Katrina Dunlap, 27 Yukelia Brown, 31 Tekesha Henderson, 26 Craig Johnson, 26 Yolanda Barbee, 22 Jerome Pope, 26 Cortez Spencer, 28 FedEx issued a statement regarding the indictments and mail theft charges facing the former employees: 'FedEx Express does not tolerate the use of its network for illegal activity,' the company said. 'We fully cooperated with authorities in this investigation, and the individuals named in the indictments are no longer employed by FedEx.' Officials held a press conference Monday to provide more details about the indictments and the charges against the former employees. 
  • A Tennessee truck driver is being hailed as a hero after he rescued 64 shelter dogs and cats ahead of Hurricane Florence. >> On WSOCTV.com: Florence’s aftermath: The latest news from the Carolinas According to the Greenvale News, Tony Alsup, 51, from Greenback, Tennessee, drove a school bus to South Carolina last week as the deadly storm strengthened in the Atlantic. Once there, he stopped in Orangeburg, Georgetown, Dillon and North Myrtle Beach, picking up 53 dogs and 11 cats from area animal shelters. >> Read more trending news  “It’s so easy for people to adopt the small pets and the cuties and the cuddly,” Alsup, of Tony's Emergency Animal Rescue and Shelter, told the Greenvale News. “We take on the ones that deserve a chance even though they are big and a little ugly. But I love big dogs, and we find places for them.” He drove them to a shelter in Foley, Alabama, which will distribute the animals to other shelters across the nation, the newspaper reported.  Saint Frances Animal Center in Georgetown praised Alsup in a Facebook post Tuesday. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  'It's all true,' the post said of Alsup, who also has saved animals from hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida. 'Tony swooped in at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning to pick up our 'leftovers' – the dogs with blocky heads, the ones with heartworm. The ones no one else will ever take. And he got them to safety. Not the most conventional evacuation, but surely the one with the most heart.' >> See the post here Read more here.