INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After working non-stop overnight and this morning, area road crews and first responders are hoping Mother Nature spares them a repeat tonight.
Saturday’s overnight forecast for central Indiana includes more freezing rain and drizzle.
Friday, the roads, especially the interstates, went from relatively dry to a sheets of ice in less than 15 minutes.
In case the same thing happens again Saturday night, Indiana Department of Transportation and Indiana State Police officials are asking people to just stay off the roads until the storm passes.
ISP’s Sgt. Rich Myers says that’s the best way to prevent the kind of parking lot traffic.
“If you are out traveling and you start to encounter that road condition, icy conditions, get off the roadway, find you a hotel somewhere and wait until conditions improve,” said Myers.
After spending all day helping get abandoned cars off the interstates, ISP troopers will spend the night doing extra patrols to help monitor and potentially block roads before crashes abound and gridlock spreads.
Some people who found themselves stuck last night, stayed in one place on the interstate for up to 10 hours.
That gridlock was largely avoided on city streets, which led many people to ask what INDOT could do differently.
“I will tell you that the conditions we saw last night are extremely unusual,” said INDOT spokesperson Will Wingfield as he began to explain what happened Friday night.
Wingfield says just as they were Sunday, INDOT crews were out well before any sleet fell. Drivers just couldn’t keep up once the roads froze over and gridlock blocked whole routes.
Wingfield also says many people in their cars who were eager to get home, didn’t make room for the INDOT crews, leaving more lanes icier than they would’ve liked.
“When there is stopped traffic, we really encourage drivers to make way for our trucks,” said Wingfield. “They’re the ones that are going to salt the roads to help get them back open again. So they need to be able to get through so they can stay on time with their routes and keep up with everything that’s coming down.”
Both men repeatedly said that even better than moving over, is not being on the interstate at all when freezing rain is falling.
“What we’re trying to tell people is stay home, hunker down, enjoy the night with your family and to stay in,” said Myers.