Major roads should be clear for morning commute

Lake County officials said Wednesday afternoon they were making good progress toward ensuring a smoother commute Thursday morning for the thousands of residents who will be returning to work.

Digging out from the blizzard that swept over the area Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning was a daunting task for the hundreds of people who stepped into the fray.

“I feel a lot better about getting it cleaned up now than I did 12 hours ago,” county Emergency Management Coordinator Kent McKenzie said Wednesday afternoon.

“We are making reasonably good progress in clearing the roads, and we are doing all we can to get people reunited with the vehicles they had to abandon at the height of the storm.”

McKenzie said more than 215 people were provided temporary shelter at five locations throughout the county, mainly at township facilities and churches, because their vehicles had become stranded in the snow.

Volunteer groups and nongovernmental agencies provided canteen services for the people who were stranded, McKenzie said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Curt Gregory said most of the stranded cars were located on east/west thoroughfares, most notably Routes 60 and 173.

On Route 60, Gregory said tractors had to be brought in to lower snow drifts more than 10 feet high before snowplows could begin the job of clearing the road.

“I have never seen anything like that before,” Gregory said. “We had some of IDOT’s largest snowplows out there, and we still needed front-end loaders to bring the drifts down before the plows could go at them.”

A stretch of Route 173 between Hunt Club Road and Route 45 drifted over so badly that Gregory said sheriff’s deputies in four-wheel drive vehicles were not even able to get through on the road.

Gregory echoed McKenzie in predicting that most of the main roads in the county would be passable by Thursday morning, but urged motorists to drive with caution.

Snow that is moved from a roadway has to go somewhere, and McKenzie reminded drivers to be alert for vision obstructions, particularly at intersections.

“The snow is being piled up in extremely high banks and berms simply because we have so much of it to get out of the way,” he said. “So it is a good idea for people to use extra care when pulling away from a stop sign, because you may not see another car coming because you are looking at a snow bank.”

Officials in Antioch and Fox Lake said their crews were also making good progress in clearing the roads, although it could be some time before all side streets are cleared.