WBEZ | INDOT http://www.wbez.org/tags/indot Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Snow, severe cold shuts down Northwest Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/snow-severe-cold-shuts-down-northwest-indiana-109472 <p><p>Northwest Indiana road conditions are improving but the area is far from normal and may be days away from recovering from an arctic blast of super cold temperatures.</p><p>Motorists and truckers had to deal with closed roads and highways for much of Monday, and after briefly reopening, by 5 p.m., INDOT had once again closed I-65 due to hazardous road conditions; I 80/94 remains open.</p><p>Earlier in the day trucker Tom Kenman of Joliet, IL passed the time in the cab of his semi truck listening to music and reading. Kenman works for a contractor that delivers mail for the U.S. Postal Service. He&rsquo;s ready to return home after being stuck at a Speedway gas station near Interstate 65 and 61st Avenue in Merrillville. As of this morning, it didn&rsquo;t look good for Kenman.</p><p>&ldquo;Things were kind of hazardous. About 6 p.m. (Sunday), things were hazardous so I jumped off on Route (U.S.) 30. I do maybe 20, 25 mph. That&rsquo;s it. Even before they shut it down, I decided forget it. I-65 is a mess. I don&rsquo;t know what I&rsquo;m going to do.</p><p>With most restaurants and businesses closed, even a nearby McDonald&rsquo;s, Kenman waited it out slurping Speedway&rsquo;s coffee and munching doughnuts.&nbsp;</p><p>I-65 was closed to all traffic yesterday afternoon because of heavy snow and slippery conditions. Semi trucks were lined up along U.S. 30 in Merrillville, waiting for I-65 to reopen, along with nearby Interstate 80/94.</p><p>Kenman and other truckers finally got some good news in the afternoon, when the Indiana Department of Transportation reopened I-65 around 2 p.m.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Drivers are advised to use extreme caution, take it slow, and travel at their own risk. Like the majority of roads across Northwest Indiana, and the state, conditions are extremely hazardous and non-emergency travel is strongly discouraged,&rdquo; said INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley.</p><p>But the respite on I-65 was short-lived as officials would shut it down again only a few hours later.</p><p>Earlier in the day, Deitchley told WBEZ that some drivers had been driving around protective barriers to keep them off of I-94.</p><p>&ldquo;Those roads are shut down, but people are still driving around the barricades anyway. INDOT and Indiana State Police don&rsquo;t have the manpower right now to physically stop these drivers, but the roads are closed,&rdquo; Deitchley said. &ldquo;They are taking their lives in their own hands, and jeopardizing the emergency personnel who may have to rescue them.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NWI%20Snow%202.jpg" style="height: 263px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Trucks are lined up near a Speedway gas station. This is not a truck stop but truckers had no where to go Monday because nearby I-65 was closed. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />Drivers should expect to continue to encounter slick conditions and blowing and drifting snow both on the main line interstates and ramps.</p><p>In fact, many motorists in Gary were struggling to drive along Broadway, the city&rsquo;s main drag, with cars getting stuck in snowdrifts.</p><p>Local officials had declared a state of emergency for Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties during Sunday&rsquo;s heavy snow storm.</p><p>Indiana Gov. Mike Pence ordered the Indiana National Guard to help stuck motorists along the highway.</p><p>Much of the state is dealing with heavy snow and severe temperatures but Pence acknowledged at a news conference today in Indianapolis that Northwest Indiana may have been hit the hardest.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">That&rsquo;s why the Republican governor was sending more resources to &ldquo;da Region,&rdquo; often divided from the rest of the state because of political and cultural differences.</div><p>&ldquo;That (Northwest Indiana) is an area of the state, particularly with lake-effect snow, that is no stranger to severe weather events,&rdquo; Pence said, &ldquo;but we&rsquo;re moving resources into the region to recognize that the combination of heavy snow and brutally cold temperatures and wind gusts represents a real public safety hazard.&rdquo;</p><p>Early Monday, even with warnings by police to stay off the roads, some had no choice but to head to work.</p><p>Hammond resident Gus Lopez said driving to his job at ArcelorMittal Steel in neighboring East Chicago felt odd.</p><p>&ldquo;It was really desolate out. Hardly anyone out driving,&rdquo; Lopez told WBEZ. &ldquo;It reminded me of my time in North Dakota, where this type of weather and this type of conditions is not unusual at all for folks up there, that far north.</p><p>And this winter at least, &quot;da Region&quot; is starting to feel more like North Dakota than Northwestern Indiana.</p><p>Most schools in Northwest Indiana will be closed Tuesday but government offices are expected to reopen.</p><p>The Indiana General Assembly is also expected to open its session down in Indianapolis, a day later than originally scheduled.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ NWI Reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>. </em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 19:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/snow-severe-cold-shuts-down-northwest-indiana-109472 Is the billion dollar Illiana Expressway worth building? http://www.wbez.org/news/billion-dollar-illiana-expressway-worth-building-108620 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Illiana 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois and Indiana don&rsquo;t often agree on much, but the governors of both states recently touted the building of the Illiana Expressway. At a cost of a billion dollars, the Illiana would link Chicago&rsquo;s far southern suburbs to southern Lake County, Indiana with an alternative east-west route for traffic. Supporters say the project would generate thousands of jobs for decades to come.</p><p>But in a critical <a href="https://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/media-release/6768">report</a> released Wednesday, the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago says the highway won&rsquo;t create nearly enough jobs or economic development to justify its cost.</p><p>&ldquo;If you take $1 billion and you invest it anywhere, you&rsquo;re going to create some construction jobs and near-term jobs without a doubt. That billion dollars is going to have an economic ripple,&rdquo; Peter Skosey, executive vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) of Chicago, told WBEZ on Thursday. &ldquo;The real question is what is the sustained ripple from that investment? And that&rsquo;s where we think the Illiana falls short.&rdquo;</p><p>The MPC is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that seeks to develop strategies to deal with the Chicago area&rsquo;s planning and development challenges.</p><p>Using data from the highway agencies in Illinois and Indiana, the MPC has concluded that the Illiana will provide few benefits in exchange for &ldquo;high and uncertain costs.&rdquo; The MPC is opposed to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, a separate government agency, adding the Illiana to its &lsquo;GO TO 2040&rsquo; plan. The plan is essentially an infrastructure and road priority list for the Chicago area.</p><p>The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) will vote in October whether to include the Illiana on the list.</p><p>The MPC is also sending its findings to the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, which is developing its own 2040 plan and will decide soon whether to fund Indiana&rsquo;s portion of the Illiana.</p><p>Skosey says the Illiana&rsquo;s estimated project cost of $1.3 billion is too low. He says building the expressway will result in almost no improvement in congestion on existing highways and produce 1,000 fewer long-term jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;It would effectively redistribute jobs and population from the center of the region,&rdquo; Skosey said.</p><p>Over the past year, public hearings have been held on both sides of the state lines with residents who will likely be affected by the Illiana. Some residents expect to lose their homes if the highway is built.</p><p>Proponents say the Illiana is needed to foster development in the region and could also serve a proposed major airport near Peotone.</p><p>But the Illiana faces a tough road ahead.</p><p>In July, three environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the impact to nature areas in Illinois.</p><p>CMAP is also questioning IDOT&rsquo;s own cost estimates for the Illiana.</p><p>&ldquo;Given the available information, CMAP&rsquo;s observation is that IDOT&rsquo;s estimate of the project cost is low relative to other comparable projects,&rdquo; CMAP wrote in a June 2010 letter to the Illinois Department of Transportation. &ldquo;A more detailed cost estimate would be required to perform a robust evaluation of the proposed project&rsquo;s financial viability and its impact on GO TO 2040&rsquo;s fiscal constraint.&rdquo;</p><p>In August of this year, Ann Schneider, secretary of IDOT, wrote a letter to CMAP in defense of the Illiana Expressway and its impact on Will County.</p><p>&ldquo;Will County has emerged as a nationally significant inland port, with billions of dollars in goods being imported and exported. Beyond our comprehensive analysis, it&rsquo;s simply common sense that we make strategic transportation investments such as the Illiana Corridor project to maintain and strengthen this existing economic center, and in doing so, strengthen the region,&rdquo; Schneider wrote.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ NWI bureau reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 05 Sep 2013 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/billion-dollar-illiana-expressway-worth-building-108620 State of Emergency declared in Northwest Indiana http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-state-police/state-emergency-declared-northwest-indiana <p><p><meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"><meta content="Word.Document" name="ProgId"><meta content="Microsoft Word 11" name="Generator"><meta content="Microsoft Word 11" name="Originator"><link href="file:///C:\DOCUME~1\mpuente\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_filelist.xml" rel="File-List" /><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" name="PlaceType"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" name="PlaceName"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" name="State"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" name="City"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" name="place"></o:smarttagtype><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" name="PersonName"></o:smarttagtype><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><style type="text/css"> <!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; 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margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --></style><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--></meta></meta></meta></meta></meta></meta></meta></meta></p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p>The Indiana State police said a state of emergency has been declared in Porter, LaPorte and Newton counties because of the snow and terrible road conditions primarily on Interstate 94 in LaPorte County and several roads in Porter County including U.S. 30.</p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, the more serious situation is on area highways and roadways.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Indiana Department of Transportations said it has every available snow plow on the road, but in some areas, it&rsquo;s had little effect and the situation may get must worse before it gets better.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;High winds are blowing snow onto previously cleared highways statewide and causing limited visibility,&rdquo; INDOT spokesman Jim Pinkerton said. &ldquo;Pavement temperatures are predicted to drop into the teens and low 20s prior to the Monday morning rush, making it more difficult for salt and other chemicals to melt frozen accumulation.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In southern Lake County near the town of Lowell, Interstate 65 is partially closed because of an accident.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But some motorists have been stuck for so long, some have reportedly abandoned their vehicles.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dozens of school districts in Northwest Indiana, including colleges and universities, are either closed or have delayed opening, and that&rsquo;s sure to please youngsters.</div><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 13 Dec 2010 13:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-state-police/state-emergency-declared-northwest-indiana