CHICAGO (STMW) – State Police across northeastern Illinois continue to urge drivers to stay off area highways early Wednesday, while emergency crews brave blizzard conditions to reach stranded motorists.
Delays continue on area interstates and highways, and although travel times have improved, the road conditions are snow and ice covered, with ramps especially icy, according to an early Wednesday update from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication.
Conditions on Cook County expressways are “terrible,” an Illinois State Police trooper said, voicing a sentiment echoed by several other officials watching areas in the blizzard’s path.
In the western suburbs, cars are still passing on the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) but motorists have been reported stranded and the area remains a “headache,” Elgin District State Police said.
“We have a lot of people stuck and not enough people out there to help,” Sgt. Amy Pelletier said, urging motorists to stay off the roads.
In the south suburbs, an impassable I-80 was closed late Tuesday and was scheduled to remain closed all night, according to Joliet District State Police.
“It’s terrible,” Sgt. Chris Paluch said. “There are too many crashes and too many vehicles in ditches. You can’t even get to the cars anymore.”
Interstate 57 near far south Kankakee — blanketed by four-foot drifts in some areas — was not passable as of about 1 a.m. Wednesday, Illinois State Police District 21 Sgt. Angie Kinstner said.
Illinois Route 50 between far southwest suburban Peotone and Manteno was also “totally impassable,” Kinstner said.
A trained spotter for the National Weather Service reported about 11 p.m. that drifts between two and four and a half feet high trapped 25 motorists, including an IDOT plow, on Route 50 according to the NWS website. A front-end loader was brought in to rescue those stranded, the spotter reported.
As of about 1:30 a.m., all motorists trapped on Route 50 have been checked on and taken to safety, but their vehicles could not be towed and remain on the road, Kinstner said.
Illinois Tollway officials late Tuesday urged drivers to stay home Wednesday except in cases of extreme emergency, according to a release from Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur.
From 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the Illinois Tollway and Illinois State Police District 15 reported 38 crashes, 133 assists to motorists, 8 requests for service and 18 vehicles towed, a release from the Tollway said.
The Tollway continues its full deployment of all 183 snow plow trucks in an effort to combat blizzard conditions and keep all 286 miles of roadways clear of snow and ice, the release said.