Chesterton Tribune



Roads mostly open except subdivisions; blame on-street parking

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On Monday, the Indiana National Guard was rescuing motorists stranded in their vehicles on Ind. 8 between Kouts and Hebron.

Today the Porter County Sheriff’s Police was going about the business of towing the vehicles now making plow drivers’ jobs difficult, especially in the unincorporated subdivisions.

There’s a reason why county ordinance bans on-street parking after a snowfall of two or more inches, PCSP Sgt. Larry LaFlower told the Chesterton Tribune today. “Any time there’s a two-inch snow or more, cars must be removed from the roadway. Obviously, that did not happen. Because Salt Creek Commons was a parking lot. Cars got stuck because the plows couldn’t get through.”

Outside the subdivisions, however, country roads are now pretty much all open, LaFlower said. The main thoroughfare of C.R. 700N had been restricted to a single lane but PCSP cleared it of traffic on Monday to make way for a big V-plow, which bulled it to two lanes and in the process left 10-foot piles of snow on either side.

LaFlower did say that Ind. 8 east of Kouts, in the C.R. 400E area, remained closed this morning. Ind. 8 west of Kouts, thanks to stranded vehicles not yet removed, was congested to a single lane.

Meanwhile, Deputy County Highway Superintendent David James acknowledged that there’ll probably be a “lot of complaints” from the folks in the subdivisions. “What people don’t understand is that there are still a lot of cars parked out there, blocking our plows,” he said. “We’re getting the Sheriff’s Police to help us and get the cars out. The cars will be towed and impounded. Then we can get in and get residents plowed out.”

Plows were out all night, James added, to re-clear roads fouled by drifting snow. “We are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Town of Chesterton

In Chesterton, all roads remained opened this morning but Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg warned motorists to use particular care at stop signs, which tend to be covered in ice, formed by the braking and sliding of vehicles and the subsequent compression of the snow.

At subzero temperatures regular road salt “absolutely will not melt” those sheets of ice, Schnadenberg said. “We’re using some treated salt left over from last year at stop signs and on hills.”

Chesterton plow drivers worked in 12-hour shifts since the snow began to fall around 6 p.m. Saturday and worked through 6:30 p.m. Monday. “We were out all day,” Schnadenberg said. “We plowed the cul-de-sacs and then the alleys. We didn’t go home until 6:30 p.m., when every alley had been cleared.”

Schnadenberg was especially grateful for the assistance from the Utility, Park, and Engineering departments, in what was an all-hands effort to get the roads open by Monday morning. “I’m extremely proud of the teamwork,” he said.

“I’m surprised the guys were able to do as much as they did (Sunday) night,” Schnadenberg added. “The conditions were extremely difficult, with the blowing snow. We could only drive 10 miles per hour because of visibility issues. The route to Crocker was the hardest and 1100N and 1050N were also tough. I’m very proud of my men.”

Schnadenberg did attribute part of the victory over the snow to the Street Department’s “good, reliable” fleet. “Having updated equipment made all the difference,” he said.

Town of Porter

In Porter all main roads on Monday morning had been opened to two lanes and side streets to a single lane, after 72-hours of continuous duty by plow drivers, in 12-hour shifts. Porter Beach, however, was inaccessible until lunch time, Public Works Director Brenda Brueckheimer said, and plows have had to return there periodically to deal with blowing drifts.

The big issue in Porter at deadline today was the same one being faced in the county: subdivisions, where vehicles parked on the street have prevented plow drivers from doing their job.

Brueckheimer, like Deputy County Highway Superintendent David James, said she’s received a lot of complaints but until vehicles are moved there’s not much her plow drivers can do. “It’s to the point where we might have to start impounding cars in the subdivisions,” she said. “We’ve already had five removed from Lincoln Street.”

Brueckheimer said that she was scheduled to meet with Police Chief Jamie Spanier this afternoon to discuss the problem and possible solutions.

There was one other issue in Porter as well: the bitter temperatures have been playing havoc with the Public Works fleet, Brueckheimer said. At noon today she was down to one big plow and three plow-equipped pickup trucks, after three plows had to be moved to the shop for repairs. INDOT was reporting the same problem this morning.

Emergency Services

Both towns’ plow drivers have been assisting firefighters in responding to emergencies. On Sunday night, the CFD were dispatched to four medical calls, two of them requiring transport to hospital. In each case, a municipal plow led the way and cleared a path for emergency vehicles.

None of the medical emergencies were weather-related.

Porter Public Works performed the same service at Porter Beach on Sunday night, when firefighters responded to the report of an elderly resident whose furnace had quit. The PFD succeeded in reaching her and moving her to a neighbor’s.

Truck Fire

Bitter weather enormously complicated Porter firefighters’ lives late Monday night, when they responded to a vehicle fire in the 1400 block of Tremont Road, after the transmission on a private plow driver’s heavy-duty pickup truck started burning.

Firefighters were on the scene from 9:33 to 11:01 p.m., Deputy Chief Jay Craig said, and did manage to keep the fire from extending to a barn approximately 15 feet from the pickup. But two separate foam systems froze up, the main on-board unit and a backup unit. A third foam system had to be transported to the scene from the station, Craig said.

The truck was a total loss.



Posted 1/7/2014