The near white-out conditions that closed the roadway twice in two days have cleared but officials still warn drivers to travel with extreme caution. Regina Waldroup reports.
Interstate 65 in Northwest Indiana reopened at about 9 :30 a.m. Tuesday after two days of intermittent closures.
Still, authorities hoped most commuters would avoid the roadway because of dangerous conditions that included black ice and blowing and drifting snow. Several vehicles that were abandoned on Sunday were still awaiting recovery Tuesday morning, officials said.
Officials closed the northbound and southbound lanes between U.S. 30 near Merrillville and mile marker 172 near Lafayette at about 5:15 p.m. Monday. That closure came just hours after portions of I-65 and I-94 in in the state reopened to drivers after an initial closure on Sunday. I-94 remained open Monday, but INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley said driving was "extremely hazardous" and he discouraged from entering the highway.
Some state roads also remained closed in certain areas, but Deitchley said it was difficult to get a specific list together and keep it current because the road conditions kept changing due to blowing and drifting snow and the ice.
State roads that experienced closures Monday included: State Road 16 between Monon and Royal Center, State Road 18 between State Road 29 and U.S. 31, State Road 218 between State Road 25 and State Road 29, and State Road 43 south of Chalmers.
Emergency crews worked late Sunday and early Monday to help several drivers stranded on I-65 due to ice and white-out conditions.
Several Northwest Indiana counties on Sunday issued emergency declarations due to extreme winter weather conditions in the area.
Officials in Lake and Porter counties ordered county roads closed to all traffic except for emergency, law enforcement and government vehicles.
"We are urging citizens to adhere to this order," said an alert from the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence authorized all state government offices to remain closed Monday.
"We want to ensure that our employees are safe," Pence said in a statement. “I am limiting the number of employees who must report to work on Monday to help keep people off the roads and out of the extreme cold, even while we make sure that Hoosiers have access to necessary government services.”
He declared a state of emergency in 29 Indiana counties due to the storm, clearing the way for federal disaster aid.
According to the NWI Times, state troopers responded to more than 2,000 calls for service in 24 hours and helped to rescue dozens of people.
South Shore commuter rail service was expected to resume service on Tuesday after trains were canceled Monday.