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First bout with icy conditions keeps area police busy

Accidents, ‘black ice’ prevalent as flurries sweep through area Monday

Although Monday evening’s snow flurries were light, the weather change caused slick roads and heavy traffic throughout the area.

“Black ice” on bridge surfaces was the major cause of the nine accidents reported in Morris, said Morris Police Chief Brent Dite Tuesday. This was also the cause of the 13 crashes involving 34 vehicles reported up and down Interstate 55, according to state police.

No major injuries were reported.

“Black ice” is prominent on bridge decks because air passing above and beneath the surface of the bridges and overpasses causes the temperature of the roadway to lower more quickly than a regular roadway.

Around 5 p.m. Monday, the accidents in Morris started occurring on the Illinois 47 bridge over the Illinois River, said Dite.

Traffic was backed up in both directions.

“It was a public safety concern so (the bridge) was closed down until the Illinois Department of Transportation and the city of Morris personnel could get out and salt,” he said.

The Illinois 47 bridge over Interstate 80 also had reported accidents, but it was not closed down.

State police reported that I-55 was closed near the Gardner exit in both directions temporarily Monday night. Interstate 57 at Wilmington-Peotone Road was down to one lane in both directions for awhile.

Officers were still making accident reports from the night’s incidents Tuesday, said Dite.

Morris police’s number of accidents this year almost came in at a record low, but Monday’s numerous accidents brought the year’s totals back up.

It has been a goal of the departments to lower the city’s accidents and officers have been working toward this through education and enforcement, said Dite.

About five years ago, the city was up toward 500 accidents a year, but within the last three years it has gone down to 350 and, this year, it was going to be less than 340 until Monday’s weather change made driving difficult.

“The first time people are confronted with snowfall or (freezing) moisture, traditionally there is a large amount of accidents because people aren’t used to dealing with these conditions in a long period of time,” said Dite.

The chief reminds people to be aware of changing weather throughout the day and the road conditions you cannot see, such as “black ice.”

The Grundy County Sheriff’s Department assisted Morris with the commotion on the bridge, but did not have any significant accidents in its jurisdiction due to the weather Monday, said Sheriff Terry Marketti.

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