Minor accidents from freezing rain dot area

Police reported several minor accidents on East Central Illinois highways on Saturday as freezing rain caused roadways to turn slick.

"We've had a lot of weather-related incidents," said Illinois State Police Sgt. Mike Sturgeon of District 10 in Pesotum. "There were some injuries, but they appear to be minor," he said.

The bulk of the calls started coming in late afternoon and early evening, he said. Several accidents occurred on I-74 near the Lincoln Avenue and Cunningham Avenue exits in Urbana, on I-57 north of Rantoul near the ChampaignFord county line, near the Mahomet exits on I-74 and on I-72 near Monticello's exits and on spots closer to Decatur around Argenta.

People need to be alert to the possibility of changing road conditions, Sturgeon said.

"Any time (the temperature) is around freezing and there's precipitation, people should be prepared to encounter slick spots," he said.

He urged drivers to listen to to the weather forecasts, drive slower and allow for a greater interval between you and the vehicle in front of you, he said. Pay attention to your surroundings, such as nearby exits or mile markers. If you slide into a ditch, then you can give the police an accurate position of where you're located, he said.

The National Weather Service in Lincoln issued a freezing rain advisory for Champaign, Vermilion, Moultrie, Douglas, Coles, Edgar and Shelby counties until noon today.

The weather service also issued an ice storm warning until noon today for Logan, DeWitt, Piatt, Cass, Menard, Scott, Morgan, Sangamon, Christian and Macon counties.

By Saturday night the freezing rain in the Champaign-Urbana area had turned scattered, rather than steady, and that was good news to Champaign Emergency Manager and Deputy Fire Chief Steve Clarkson.

"Things aren't as icy now as we thought they might be," he said around 9 p.m. Saturday.

Clarkson said the city's primary roads were in good shape Saturday night; however, the secondary roads may be a little slick in places. A concern was icy bridges and overpasses during the late-afternoon, he said.

A fresh public works crew was expected to start a new shift at 11:30 p.m. Saturday. They planned to continue salting the roads through the night.

"The primary roads are in good shape, but people should remember that once you arrive (at your destination) there's the parking lot and sidewalks, and some of those may still be ice-covered. They still have to use caution," Clarkson said.

The forecast called for a chance of freezing rain in the Champaign-Urbana area through Wednesday.

For information on winter road conditions, Sturgeon suggested drivers go to www.gettingaroundillinois.com, a Web site from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

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