CARBONDALE — Keith Miley, operations engineer Illinois Department of Transportation District 9, said Friday crews are making headway clearing roads throughout Southern Illinois.
“Right now you can consider the state interstate system is about 75 percent covered with ice and snow. We expect the west half of the district to rebound quicker. We are still having periods of heavy snow on the east side that will probably continue throughout the afternoon,” Miley said on Friday.
IDOT brought in a crew at 7 p.m. Thursday to work throughout the night and a new shift at 7 a.m. Friday. They were expected to make an assessment Friday afternoon about what kind of crew would be needed Friday evening.
“Hopefully, we will get things cleaned up pretty quickly,” Miley said.
County highway crews began working Thursday, too, and continued into the evening on Friday.
“It’s been a really odd storm. Some places are a sheet of ice other places just had a little sleet or have dry roads,” Beth Lipe, administrative assistant at Perry County Highway Department, said.
Roads got better in many areas throughout the day Friday. Counties on the east side of the region saw more ice and snow and had more difficulty clearing roads. Most main roads had been plowed and salted, and crews began to work on secondary roads.
“We’ve been out for 24 hours just trying to hit everything we can hit. Crews are plowing and spreading salt and cinders,” Lipe said.
Mike Rolla, Franklin County engineer, expected main county roads to be “pretty good” by the end of Friday.
“We didn’t have as much ice as we expected. That wind blew that water like a blow dryer, drying the pavement,” Rolla said. “You still need to drive with caution.”
Greg Smothers, Williamson County engineer, said all asphalt roads were partially snow-covered.
“We cleared them down as far as we possibly can get them. They are a whole lot better than they were this morning, but they are not clear. Secondary roads improving with every hour that passes,” Smothers said.
Travel was doable in the county Friday, but he urged drivers to use caution.
Much of Williamson County was covered in an inch of sleet that Smothers said was packed and very dense.
“It’s hard to get it off and get the pavement clear because it’s so cold. It’s just the nature of what we have to deal with,” Smothers said.
The southeast corner of the county received four inches of snow, which required some manpower to be shifted to the area to plow roads.
“We are planning to work tomorrow, too. We have every intention of improving things from what are today,” Smothers said Friday.
Like other counties, Jackson County Highway Department employees spent the day plowing and salting roads.
Trooper Joey Watson of Illinois State Police District 13 said IDOT has done a great job under the conditions they have had.
Unfortunately, Watson said that means drivers increase their speeds, but there are still slick spots on the roads. Accidents are increasing as speeds increase.
“We are seeing precipitation blowing back over the roadway causing black ice conditions. We are starting to see those types of crashes now,” Watson said.
Watson and Miley remind drivers to slow down and keep a safe distance from other drivers. Miley also asks that drivers watch for snow plows and give them extra room.
For the latest road conditions, Miley suggests checking online at www.gettingaroundillinois.com.
Transportation districts in Illinois report every two hours and conditions are updated on the website based on those reports.
The National Weather Service in Paducah is forecasting temperatures with highs in the teens and lows in the single digits for Saturday that will continue into Sunday. The forecast includes a small chance of snow on Sunday, with a swath of winter precipitation on Monday, followed by even colder temperatures Monday evening. Highs on Monday will be near freezing, followed by lows at zero or below, depending on snow cover.
Saturday's indoor winter farmer's market at Carbondale Community High School was also canceled.