Illinois Tollway ready to mobilize full fleet of snowplows

The Illinois Tollway is prepared to mobilize its full fleet of 183 snowplows in response to the snowfall expected to begin this afternoon and continue into the nighttime hours. The Tollway’s Snow Operations Center opened this afternoon to manage the agency’s system-wide response.

“This storm is expected to impact the evening rush hour, so we remind our customers to slow down during winter weather and avoid unnecessary lane changes,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “If you see someone who needs help along the road, call *999 from your cell phone.  A dispatcher will receive your call and send the appropriate responders to the scene.”

To respond to this weather event, the Illinois Tollway will have a full complement of more than 200 staff and supervisors per shift to ensure that roadways are kept clear of snow and ice.  To help with snow removal efforts, the Tollway has cancelled all temporary maintenance and construction lane closures from 3 p.m. tonight, March 2, to 3 a.m. on Saturday, March 3.

For drivers traveling this evening, the Tollway provides the following tips:

  • Clear snow and ice from all windows, mirrors and lights on your vehicle before starting. Blowing snow can significantly diminish visibility. Clearing all windows BEFORE you start driving assures maximum vision of your surroundings and assists in reducing ice and snow buildup as you drive.
  • Reduce speed in cash lanes at toll plazas.
    Drivers paying cash at toll plazas should adjust their speed on approach during snow and ice storms. Watch for lane designations on approach to the toll plaza; switching lanes close to the toll plaza is unsafe, especially during winter weather.
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changes.
    During heavy snowstorms, slush and packed snow build up in the area between traffic lanes. Abrupt or frequent lane changes may cause your vehicle to slide on the buildup and spin out of control.
  • Keep away from snowplows.
    Should you encounter snowplows, the safest choice is to keep back and let them do their job. They travel at a speed of approximately 30 miles per hour, so traffic delays should be expected. During periods of extremely heavy snow, Illinois Tollway snowplow trucks will work in tandem to remove as much ice, slush and snow as possible from all lanes at once.
  • Do not use the shoulder of the road to pass a snowplow.
    Some snowplows are equipped with wing plows that extend to the left or right of the vehicle. While these wings allow for more efficient removal of snow, they are nearly invisible to passing motorists due to blowing snow. De-icing materials spread from the rear of the truck may also be a distraction to motorists attempting to pass.