News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 6, 2014

Arctic Blast 2014: Road crews battle snow drifts

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Blowing and drifting snow along with sub-zero temperatures made clearing roads and highways a constant job Monday.

Most counties in west-central Indiana had posted travel warnings, advising roads are closed to all but emergency personnel, said Debbie Calder, spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The westbound ramp for Interstate 70 at U.S. 41 in Vigo County was temporarily closed Monday as a vehicle became stuck there, Calder said. Also temporarily closed at times were: Indiana 236 between Indiana 59 and Indiana 39; Indiana 142, between Indiana 39 and Indiana 42; and Indiana 159 from Dallas Road to Indiana 46.

Indiana State Police troopers from the Putnamville district responded to 19 vehicle slide-offs, one property damage crash and four stranded motorists as of noon Monday, said ISP Sgt. Joe Watts.

Most motorists experienced trouble along Interstates 70 and 74, U.S. 41 South, and Indiana 63 North in Vigo and Vermillion counties. The busiest spots along I-70 were in eastern Vigo County and western Clay County, as well as eastern Putnam County, Watts said.

In Terre Haute, Mayor Duke Bennett said snow routes were cleared in the city, but road crews continued to clear side streets. Bennett said city crews are applying sand at intersections.

“It is too cold for salt to be effective, so we are mostly using sand,” the mayor said. “Overall, the city snow routes are clear and in good shape, other than they can be slippery.”

Dan Bennett, superintendent of the Vigo County Highway Department, said drifting snow has impacted the department’s ability to clear some rural roads.

“We had three tandem trucks stuck in West Terre Haute and two were stuck east of Riley. We have them going again,” Bennett said Monday afternoon.

However, Bennett said a front-end loader had to be used to assist a county snowplow on Sandford Road, west of U.S. 150. “The truck became stuck, then four [passenger] cars got stuck in front of it. We can’t clear that section of the road until those vehicles are removed,” he said.

The intense wind, Bennett said, kept snow drifting across roadways on Monday. “It is not closing most roads, but we have to maintain constant plowing to keep them open. We may have to use loaders to get rid of some snow drifts” along some roads, he said.

In Illinois, the District 7 office of the Illinois Department of Transportation ranked the roads at a “6,” the worse ranking for road conditions, said a field engineer who declined to give his name.

The Illinois Department of Transportation reports 1,290 trucks and more than 1,400 employees worked throughout the state Monday to clear roads.