‘Emergency travel only’ for C-U area interstates

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Update (7:00 p.m., Tuesday)- Despite the University and the city of Champaign resuming operations today, Illinois State Police are still advising that roads in Champaign County to be emergency travel only, according to a press release. 

The press release continued to state that I-57, I-72 and I-74 are each still extremely dangerous due to snow packed drifts and icy patches, and motorists keep sliding off the roadway. 

ISP advised motorists to use caution, reduce speed, allow for extra travel time and keep an emergency kit. 

Update (3 p.m. Monday): Illinois State Police are on the scene of several crashes on I-57 at mile marker 253, which is just north of Rantoul.

Illinois State Police are reporting white-out conditions in areas north of Champaign to at least the Ford County line.

In addition, Champaign city officials say all primary routes within the city are passable and are monitoring streets for blowing and drifting. Crews are now working on secondary routes, which they hope to have plowed by Tuesday morning.

Update (2:15 p.m., Monday): The Illinois National Guard, along with Illinois State Police and the Illinois Department of Transportation personnel, assisted motorists from approximately 375 vehicles that were backed up on I-70 and I-57 north of Effingham, Ill., on Sunday evening.

Multiple vehicles and semi-trucks were stranded in snow drifts along the interstates, which made it difficult for snow plows to do their job, leading to the backup, according to a press release from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office.

Quinn activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield on Sunday night to help address the winter storm.

Quinn in a 1 p.m. news conference Monday in Chicago said the state is mobilizing all of its resources during this time. He also declared Illinois a state disaster area.

The Illinois Department of Transportation says it has deployed more 3,700 employees and 1,755 trucks to help clear state routes.

Update (11:30 a.m., Monday): Although road conditions within Champaign and Urbana city limits have improved, authorities are continuing to urge that travel should not be attempted into rural areas.

According to the Champaign County Emergency Management, hundreds of vehicles are stranded within the county, which is slowing plow operations. In some locations, drifts are high as eight feet.

Update (10:45 a.m., Monday): U.S. 45 southbound remains closed Monday morning from Thomasboro, Ill., to Urbana because of accidents and drifting.

Update (6:15 a.m., Monday): Champaign County highways and township roads remain closed Monday morning and most will likely remain impassable for much of the day.

According to the Champaign County Emergency Management, around 100 semi tractor-trailer rigs are stranded on Route 150 between Urbana and St. Joseph, Ill.

In addition, deputies fielded around 80 calls from motorists overnight.

Update (7:25 p.m.): Eastbound I-74 has reopened near mile marker 191, but only one lane is passable due to drifting, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Update (6:30 p.m.): Illinois State Police announced that road conditions are now life-threatening due to white out conditions and drifting snow blocking roadways, according to a press release.

If drivers have vehicle problems or a crash, assistance may not arrive before they succumb to the extreme cold. Temperatures and wind chills may cause hypothermia and death, according to the press release.  

ISP urged drivers to “stay home and out of danger.”

Update (5 p.m.): Illinois State Police officials are calling I-57, I-72 and I-74 nearly impassable late Sunday afternoon.

Near white-out conditions with blowing and drifting snow have officials advising travel for emergency-purposes only.

U.S. Route 150 has been closed between St. Joseph, Ill., and Urbana because of a crash.

The Illinois State Police officially shut down the eastbound lanes of I-74 at the University Avenue exit due to multiple vehicle accidents, according to a press release.

ISP are also on the scene of a traffic crash on I-57 at mile marker 192. Northbound traffic has been stopped until the semis involved in the crash have been removed.

The Illinois Department of Transportation stated that Route 47 and Route 10 are also closed due to the weather, according to the press release. Traffic is currently being re-routed to U.S. Route 150. ISP’s has also put their no tow policy is in effect due to hazardous road conditions.

In addition, because of poor visibility and dangerous wind chills, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office said snow plowing on Champaign County highways and township roads will be suspended at sunset Sunday.

Plowing is set to resume Monday morning, pending weather conditions.

The sheriff’s office said travel on these roads is discouraged and is at the driver’s risk. In addition, there are plans in place for plows to accompany emergency vehicles in rural area.

Drivers are advised to remain in their vehicles if their stranded on the road.

The ISP has also implemented a no-tow policy, due to extremely poor visibility.