Wind, snow making it tough to get around Thursday morning

News-DemocratJanuary 2, 2014 

Windy conditions coupled with 2-4 inches of snow that fell overnight are making driving hazardous for metro-east residents.

According to Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Joe Monroe, wind gusts in some area are blowing snow across roads nearly as quickly as plow crews can clean them off. He said highway on and off ramps are especially hazardous because their banked turns seem to catch the snow.

Some morning commuters who plan to ride MetroLink trains will face brief delays Thursday morning.

According to Metro Transit spokeswoman Patti Beck, the Red Line was running about 15 minutes behind schedule during the morning rush because of a switching problem at the Lambert International Airport station. About the time that problem was resolved, a gate problem on track between the Emerson Park and 5th and Missouri stations in East St. Louis caused 10-15 minute delays because trains had to operate on a single track until the problem could be fixed.

The issues had been worked out by 10 a.m. and trains were back on schedule.

Illinois State Police trooper Calvin Dye Jr. said, as of 9 a.m. Thursday said that his department has dealt with 10 snow-related collisions and about 15 cases of vehicles that have slid off roadways.

"It's been a steady stream since about 6 a.m.," Dye said about the accidents. "But, fortunately, there have been no serious injuries to this point."

Dye said most of the problems have been caused by motorists who drive too fast for conditions. He urged people to slow down and anticipate potential re-freezing of melted snow on the roadways.

Things seem to be worse in Missouri, especially the northern part of the metropolitan area where more snow fell. The Missouri Department of Transportation reported about 100 snow-related accidents.

While crews have been out overnight treating highways, the cold temperatures are limiting the effectiveness of the chemicals and slick spots could make driving hazardous.

Beck said MetroBus routes fell 10-15 minutes behind schedule on average -- and 30 minutes behind in limited cases -- because of snow-related issues. Thursday morning despite the overnight snow that blanketed the region.

Beck said commuters should anticipate possible delays as the snow cleanup work continues.

"Metro customers should plan ahead for the possibility of delays this morning due to road and street conditions," Beck said. "They are encouraged to be careful on MetroLink platforms, stairs, elevators, escalators and Metro Park-Ride lots."

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

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