The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 9, 2014

Area roads begin to improve

I-74 remains a problem in county

The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Vermilion County emerged from days of harsh winter weather Wednesday to improving weather and road conditions.

Temperatures reached around 20 degrees locally, double the high temperature reached only a day earlier. Wednesday also brought with it a marked improvement in wind chills, which were recorded at minus-40 degrees and minus-24 degrees Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Bob Scott, services and operations manager for Danville’s Public Works, said streets were continuing to improve with the increasing temperatures Wednesday.

“It is getting better,” he said. “It’s just taking some time to do.”

Scott noted straight rock salt used to melt ice and snow on roadways doesn’t work at temperatures until 22-23 degrees. The city uses a salt water mixture with 10 percent calcium chloride to bring down that temperature farther still.

“Once it gets around 5 degrees, none of that works,” he said.

Despite the improving conditions, not every street and roadway in the county was considered a safe thoroughfare. As of mid-afternoon, Interstate 74 was still listed as having scattered slippery spots throughout Vermilion County.

State or U.S. routes running through Vermilion County also were considered dangerous, according to a Wednesday morning report by the Illinois State Police, with “snow-packed drifts, icy patches and now partial melting snow/slush.”

As a result of early interstate conditions, Danville Mass Transit canceled service between Danville and Champaign-Urbana on Wednesday.

Scott said that snow compacted earlier in the week is beginning to fluff back up, making it easier to move by city plows which were out on the street Wednesday afternoon and expected to be out again today.

“We still advise everyone to use caution for spots that are still snow-packed,” Scott said.

Vermilion County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Dennis Wood said deputies have still been handling vehicle accidents as a result of the road conditions. But he characterized the incidents as mainly low-speed spinouts and fender-benders.

He added the number of weather-related calls were about what was anticipated given the snow, wind and resulting conditions.

“The key to this storm, just like some others, there was a lot of pre-warning,” Wood said. “I think that is key. People start getting ready for it and thinking about it.”

He added early closures by schools and businesses kept a lot of people off the road.