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Friday, May 6, 2016

Icy weather closes Interstate 70

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

* Traffic clogs roadways in Brazil

The return of icy weather worsened road conditions and sent emergency response personnel back out into the frigid weather to help motorists Tuesday.

"It's nasty out there," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton told The Brazil Times in a telephone interview around 7 p.m. "Ice is covering everything. Thankfully, it's starting to warm up and we're caught up right now. Hopefully, the temperatures will continue to rise and melt the ice. "

With all Clay County roads covered with a thin sheet of ice around noon, 911 dispatchers at the Clay County Justice Center were swamped with countless reports of traffic accidents and slide-offs. Most of the accidents involved property damage, and if victims reported injuries to officials, they said it was usually minor injuries.

As the sleet covered the roads, city, county and state highway workers were doing their best to get salt on the roadways. However, the conditions became so bad road crews were unable to get to some areas.

Due to the slick conditions, Indiana State Police had to divert westbound traffic off Interstate-70 at Exit 41, to State Road 231 and then onto United States 40 through Brazil.

Meanwhile, slide-offs and accidents around I-70 Exit 11, near Terre Haute, caused traffic delays for eastbound traffic. The motorists reportedly began leaving I-70 and rerouted themselves onto US 40.

As the motorists from both directions headed toward Brazil, the Brazil City Police Department took action to alleviate the congestion along National Avenue.

"We changed a few of the stop lights in town to yellow flashers to help traffic flow straight through the city more easily and put up signs to stop motorists from turning south on SR 59 to I-70," Captain Terry Harrison said. "It's not been too bad for us so far. We've only had a few accident reports today."

Harrison said city road crews were keeping the main roads pretty clear, but the side roads were icy and dangerous to travel.

"People need to just stay home in this type of weather and not drive if they don't have to," Harrison said. "But, if they have to drive, they really need to slow down."

Heaton agreed.

"Just because a person owns a 4-wheel drive vehicle doesn't mean they can drive safely on ice," Heaton said.

Apparently semi-tractor trailers didn't fare much better, as two semis reportedly jackknifed on State Road 42 near Poland.

"We had one on the east side," Heaton explained, "And another on the west side of Poland and several other vehicles off the road in between. The road was closed for a while until the accidents could be cleared away."

As more freezing rain fell on the more than 700 miles of county roads, emergency response personnel were dispatched to the same areas over and over again to help stranded motorists.

"It's bad everywhere," 911 dispatcher Jerry Jordan told The Brazil Times in between answering 911 calls. "Anywhere there's a road with a hill, there are accidents."

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