Chesterton Tribune

 

 

I-65 open; roads still perilous; bitter temps hard on plows

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As of 10 a.m. today, the Indiana Department of Transportation was warning motorists of the continuing dangers of travel, even as I-65 between U.S. Highway 30 in Merrillville and Lafayette was re-opened to traffic.

Although most roads were now open--“after a long night by INDOT plow crews battling drifting snow”--extremely icy conditions were persisting on all roads due to the subzero temperatures.

“Hard-pack snow and ice should be expected on all Northwest Indiana roads, including I-65 and I-94, causing dangerously icy conditions,” the ISP said at 10 a.m. today. “In these subzero temperatures, road salt is not as effective on icy roadways. INDOT is using other methods to melt ice and gain traction on road surfaces, such as chemical anti-icing agents and abrasives, but the frigid weather is hindering these efforts as well. Dangerously icy conditions will not likely improve across Northwest Indiana until Wednesday.”

Compounding the problem was the wear and tear on INDOT’s fleet. “Extremely cold temperatures are also causing numerous mechanical failures for INDOT plows and heavy machinery,” INDOT said. “INDOT mechanics are working long hours, like plow drivers, to get these vehicles back on the roads as soon as possible. But constant equipment failure due to frigid temperatures is slowing the process of clearing Northwest Indiana roads.”

For the record, between midnight Sunday and Monday morning, the Indiana State Police responded to 220 calls, consisting of slide-offs, property-damage and personal-injury crashes, and motorist assists.

Extreme cold-weather driving tips from INDOT:

*Don’t travel. INDOT is asking the public to refrain from any non-emergency travel through Wednesday. All counties in Northwest Indiana remain under a “Watch” or “Warning” status, limiting travel to essential or emergency purposes, respectively. To see an updated map of county travel advisories provided by each county’s emergency management agency, visit www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory

*Looks can be deceiving. “Sunny weather and roadways free of most loose snow may give drivers the impression that road conditions are better than they actually are,” INDOT said, but road salt is less effective in these subzero temperatures. Motorists should expect sheets of ice on all roads in the region through Wednesday, when “temperatures are expected to become more favorable for chemical melting agents and plows.”

*Be prepared. Those who must travel should prepare for poor conditions and adjust driving behaviors accordingly. Take it slow, leave sufficient room between vehicles, and give plows plenty of room to work. Crashes, slide-offs and traffic backups further hinder INDOT’s snow and ice removal efforts and jeopardize the safety of others.

 

 

Posted 1/7/2014.