Chicago area deals with latest round of snow

December 20, 2010 (ELGIN, Ill.)

Three to five inches of snow are expected to accumulate by the time the storm passes Tuesday.

Monday night, it was slow going on expressways, but luckily the heavier snow didn't hit until after the evening rush.

It was the same in the city of Chicago where the snow piled up. Crews concentrated on the major roads and hoped to clear them by morning.

Earlier in the day, Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communication had snow-plow drivers on stand-by. OEMC expected to send out all its trucks Monday night. They said the snow and rain could cause some issues, but the main arteries should be in good shape by the morning rush.

Streets and Sanitation workers kept an eye on the radar in order to figure out where to focus their efforts first. Commissioner Thomas Byrne said the storm's timing is complicating things for them, not just because of the rush hour.

"We have a restricted schedule because Friday is a holiday, so we're trying to get garbage picked up within four days this week, plus the snow storm and trying to get our drivers switched out right so we're not overtiring them," said Commissioner Byrne.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) was doing its part on area expressways. At the Stevenson Expressway salt yard, workers loaded up their trucks in anticipation of the snow, while issuing a warning to drivers.

"Everybody thinks if they have four-wheel drive they are not going to slide. Everybody slides. Please yield to our plow-truck drivers so this way we can get the roads salted and this way we can get everybody home safely," said Jack Neven, IDOT yard manager.

In some areas, freezing rain could make getting around treacherous throughout the night. One driver ABC7 spoke with Monday night was trying his best to drive cautiously.

"Keep a two-car distance between you at all times," said motorist Erick Mejia.

The far northwestern suburbs always get hit harder by the snow than Chicago does. So in the city of Elgin the Public Works trucks were out early Monday evening pre-treating the roads.

Elgin uses a mixture of salt brine and sugar beet juice to treat their roads. Not only is it more environmentally friendly, it's cheaper than salt. And it's even cheaper now that they're producing their own brine rather than purchasing it.

"Salt brine is simply salt and water, so it's not real tough to make. The capital cost for us for $50,000 up front, and we save $75,000 a year just making it ourselves now. We can make it ourselves at 25 cents a gallon," said David Lawry, Elgin Public Works director.

Just south of Chicago in McCook, workers were prepping 12 trucks Monday afternoon.

"We make sure the trucks are out prior to the rush hour hitting. This way, they are in their area and they're not fighting traffic to get to the location that they're designated to plow," said Neven.

Snow trucks are expected to be out on the roads during the storm, but there's really not much to do -- except deal with it.

"I left around 9 o'clock this morning to try to get here earlier than I needed to," said motorist Kate Peugh.

"Just take it easy and rely on four-wheel drive to get me their safe, I guess," said motorist Michael McKinney.

The advisory remains in effect until 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

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