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Allen County under Level 3 snow emergency; weather linked to numerous crashes

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 6:55 pm

The level 3 winter weather event declared by Allen County Commissioners at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday for unincorporated areas of the county will remain in effect into Thursday morning when the Allen County sheriff and county highway department will re-evaluate at 8 a.m.

A level 3 means routine travel or activities may be restricted because of a hazardous situation. Residents should use caution or avoid these areas, and schools and businesses may begin to implement their emergency action plans.

The decision was made after consultation between Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries and County Highway Director Bill Hartman. Hartman said county snow plows will remain on highways through 6 p.m. today. Plows will be back out on county roads around 4 a.m. Thursday. Calcium chloride and a salt/sand mixture will also be applied, but the extremely cold temperatures could hamper the melting process. The county's salt supply remains adequate at this time, according to Mike Green, the commissioners' public information director.

Early Wednesday morning the city of Fort Wayne had more than 40 trucks plowing throughout the city, and Wednesday night had increased that to 50 trucks.

“It’s been difficult to keep up because it's been a constant snow fall since 7o’clock this morning," said Brad Baumgartner, Fort Wayne Street Commissioner, in a statement. "Area schools let out early and there was a lot of traffic out-and-about this afternoon. That slowed us slightly, but still we made good progress on the main thoroughfares."

He was hoping the department's third shift could get to residential streets Wednesday night. To view the city's snow plow routes, look under Online specials at www.news-sentinel.com.

The city has had to order salt twice this winter, with an order for 1,900 tons made Wednesday.

As long as the snow is still falling crews will continue to work on the main thoroughfares. By 4:30 this afternoon many of these priority streets had been plowed two or three times, as snow continued to fall.

Snowy and slippery roads kept Indiana State Police busy.

Between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, troopers from the Fort Wayne post worked 21 property damage crashes, four personal-injury crashes and 16 slide-offs. None of the personal-injury crashes were serious. Interstate 69 southbound at the 111-mile marker in Allen County was shut down for well over an hour because of numerous crashes there.

The Fort Wayne post serves Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells and Whitley counties.

The State Police remind people not to call city, county or state police dispatch centers to ask what the road and weather conditions are. The lines must stay open for emergency calls.

For recorded statewide road and weather information that is updated every six hours, call 1-800-261-7623 and follow the voice prompts.

For road and weather information, go to www.in.gov/isp.