Crashes, Spin-Outs Hamper Snowy Morning Commute
Rails fare better than roadways following Mother Nature's latest blast of snow
The remnants of Chicago's latest snowfall caused a number of problems on area roadways during the Tuesday morning commute.
Most notable was a full shutdown of the westbound lanes of Interstate 94 near Kenosha after a tractor-trailer jack-knifed at tipped on its side. Transportation officials said they expected that area to be cleared at about 7:45 a.m.
The northbound lanes of Interstate 294 near Cicero Avenue and West 127th Street were closed to traffic briefly during the 6 a.m. hour after a car began stranded in the shoulder. The driver may have hit the median wall.
On Interstate 80/94 -- the Borman Expressway -- four cars and a tractor-trailer were pulled along the side of the road after a crash near Torrence Avenue. At least one of the vehicles was facing the wrong direction along the shoulder.
In Darien, police closed a frontage road at South Cass Avenue and Interstate 55 after a car went into the ditch.
Crash on the outbound Edens Expressway portion of Interstate 94 slowed traffic near Lake and at Peterson avenues.
"Edens is a mess," NBC Chicago's helicopter reporter Mike Lorber said on Twitter.
Longer-than-normal travel times were reported throughout the network throughout the morning. Up-to-date travel times are always available at NBCChicago.com/traffic.
In the city, Department of Streets and Sanitation spokeswoman Molly Poppe said more than 300 pieces of snow-fighting equipment -- 280 plows and salt spreaders, as well as more than 20 smaller 4X4 snow plows -- were out overnight clearing roadways.
On The Rails
Metra officials, hoping to avoid the problems associated with last year's polar vortex, used new equipment and procedures to keep the system running. Crews in some areas of the network, like near the Western Avenue station at 420 North Artesian Avenue, along the Milwaukee District / West Line, used fire to keep the rails warm. New switch heaters were also put in place and crews worked throughout the night to keep lines clear of snow and ice.
Agency officials also said high-speed snow blowers were used and the doors on some of its oldest trains were replaced. Snow and ice last year caused problems when it blew into door mechanisms, officials said.
"The worst snow for us in this industry is a very cold, light snow that blows, and it gets in all the cracks and crevices and finds its way around the braking system and things," Metra's executive director, Dave Orseno, explained Monday. "The heavier snow, the wetter snow, that's not near a big of a problem for us."
As of 6:30 a.m., Metra officials said there were no major delays or cancellations to report. Updated travel information is always available at MetraRail.com.
The Chicago Transit Authority reported no major weather-related problems with buses or trains. Up-to-date transit information is posted to TransitChicago.com.
At The Airports
Aviation officials reported flight delays in excess of 30 minutes at both O'Hare International and Midway International. More than 230 flights were canceled at O'Hare.
One traveler who spoke with NBC Chicago complained that her American Airlines plane from Los Angeles couldn't get to a gate at O'Hare for two hours after landing late Monday.
Travelers were advised to check travel times. Chicago's Department of Aviation maintains up-to-date flight information at FlyChicago.com.