Heavy snow snarls traffic in much of Indiana

A snow-covered tollway greeted Northwest Indiana commuters on Wednesday morning as residents struggle to dig out.
February 5, 2014 3:28:03 PM PST
A snow-covered tollway greeted Northwest Indiana commuters on Wednesday morning.

It was the same everywhere across the region, but while most seemed to heed the warnings and stayed off the highways, state police say there were still lots of accidents caused mostly by drivers who insist on going too fast for conditions.

"Our calls for slide-offs and crashes have increased significantly, several significant crashs ocurring right now," said Lt. Jerry Williams, Illinois State Police ? Lowell District.

And it's not just the snow that's piling up. In Merrillville, where the streets department has 22 trucks to plow about 190 miles of roads, overtime costs are through the roof. Like many other neighboring communities, despite starting the season with lots of salt left over from last year, they're now rationing what's left.

"We still have some salt left. We have it in the back of our trucks for weight, so we're not sliding all over the place. And we have salt in reserve in case we get hit by an ice storm because that's a lot worse than the snow," said Supt. Kevin Markle, Merrillville Streets Dept.

Meanwhile, some people's nerves are at a breaking point. Sick of the non-stop shoveling, homeowner Joanna Gurdiola finally gave in last week and bought a snow blower.

"My driveway is pretty big. I'm tired of my back hurting," said Joanna Gurdiola, homeowner. "This was the last one at Sears when we went. They sold out."

But perhaps the clearest indication that folks are ready for this winter to end, is the increase in requests local travel agents are getting for last minute getaways. At Pampalone Travel in Merrillville, the most popular requests are, not surprisingly, Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean.

"They said we just need 4,5,7-day something. We just have to get out of here," said Dominic Pampalone, Pampalone Travel Express.

Most counties across Indiana are asking people to restrict their travel and many schools, universities and government offices have closed for the day or delayed their Wednesday openings.

Crashes caused police to close several sections of major highways at various times, including parts of Interstate 65 north of Lafayette and south of Indianapolis, I-164 near Evansville and I-74 in southeastern Indiana.

The National Weather Service reports about 7 inches of snow in Indianapolis and Terre Haute, with more than 8 inches in Fort Wayne. The heaviest snowfall reported has been nearly 10 inches in western Indiana's Parke County.

Purdue cancels classes because of winter storm

Purdue University has called off all Wednesday classes at its West Lafayette campus because of the winter storm.

Purdue had planned to resume classes Wednesday afternoon, but now say normal operations won't resume until Thursday. Purdue officials say they're concerned about road conditions for those commuting to campus.

The Indiana-Purdue campus in Fort Wayne is closed Wednesday, while IUPUI in Indianapolis is remaining closed through 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Indiana University is keeping the Bloomington campus on its normal schedule, but the storm has led to closings or delays at IU regional campuses in Kokomo, Richmond and New Albany and Ball State University in Muncie.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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