Road crews were reporting major headway in clearing the main arteries of cities and in the county Wednesday, but secondary roads and streets are going to remain a problem until Thursday.
"This is the worst I've seen at one time," Saline County Highway Department Foreman Richard Simpson said.
A foot or greater of wet snow greeted Wednesday morning travelers, many of whom were left stranded as their vehicles became mired trying to make their way through their neighborhoods. According to a press release from the Saline County Sheriff's Office Harrisburg and Eldorado received about 14 inches of snow with about 9 inches reported in the Harco area and 12 inches in the Harco area. The Junction area of Gallatin County received about 6 inches. High winds were causing the snow to drift over what had been already cleared. The snow began about 1 a.m. and began to pile up as early as 3 a.m.
The department had six workers out in six machines trying to clear the major county highways working since 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, Simpson said. As of about 5 p.m. major roads like Harco Road, Carrier Mills Road, Walnut Grove Road, College Road and Eldorado-Ridgway Road were reasonably clear.
"The secondary roads are a problem," Simpson said.
He said crews would be working until shortly after dark and then get some sleep in order to begin fresh at 4:30 a.m.
The snow has been heavy, wet, drifting and has been sucking the department's equipment into it.
"I've had six trucks out all day and have had five trucks in ditches out of the six," Simpson said.
Harrisburg Street Department crews got the main streets cleared and were to have three backhoes working through the night.
"We'll branch off now into secondary streets and alleys tomorrow," Street Department Superintendent Rick Brown said Wednesday.
He said spreading salt brine on the main streets Tuesday helped in scraping away the snow, but some streets were difficult because motorists drove over the snowy streets compacting it.
Brown said some people have called upset that the snow plowed out of the streets have blocked their driveways, but that is to be expected when there is so much accumulation so fast. If the blades were not angled toward the curb there would be no clear streets to drive onto, he said.
"But we are going to try to go around and clear the worst ones," Brown said.
He asks citizens to be patient.
Eldorado Street Superintendent J.B. James said crews also cleared the main streets — Locust Street, the downtown and the high school area in preparation for the Eldorado Holiday Tournament crowd.
James said the freezing rain that began the snow storm has proven a bit of a challenge. The other issue is the accumulation was so great and so heavy crews are running out of room to put the snow they clear.
James and Brown reported problems with stranded vehicles in streets blocking crews from clearing them.
The Saline County Central Dispatch received many calls of vehicles stuck in snow, but no accidents involving injuries by noon Wednesday.
During the day the wind was blowing some snow into 3-foot drifts and visibility was down to 1/4 mile.
Saline County Sheriff Keith Brown asks motorists to remain off the highways and streets unless they have an urgent need and the fewer motorists driving the more efficient and safe a job the road crews can do. He also ordered the courthouse closed Wednesday.
Brown also asks residents not to call the dispatch center asking for road conditions or for when their streets will be plowed, as these tie up the phone lines for emergency calls.
Brown recommends people check road conditions using the Illinois Department of Transportation Web site www.gettingaroundillinois.com