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Streets not expected to improve by morning commute

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Motorists are allowed back on the roads, but they are being warned to take it slow and use caution when they head to work Tuesday morning.

Roads throughout the county are still covered in ice, and that likely won’t change before rush hour. Crews will work overnight to be sure roads stay clear of drifting snow, but won’t make any progress breaking up ice on the roadways. Since temperatures are still below zero, road salt won’t have any effect on the ice overnight.

“When you get down to temperatures like this, it’s just a losing battle. We’ve got the snow pack down as far as we can get and all we can do is keep the drifting at bay,” Johnson County Commissioner Brian Baird said.

Plow drivers had started getting to subdivision streets, but struggled to clear them completely due to mechanical issues and the cold temperatures, meaning motorists won’t wake up to clear streets tomorrow morning.

Power had been restored to most homes in Franklin by about 6 p.m., including one subdivision that had no electricity since 8 a.m., Mayor Joe McGuinness said.

About 150 Whiteland homes lost power after 8 p.m., and 22 customers in Franklin still didn’t have electricity, Duke Energy spokesman Lew Middleton said. Power should be restored to all of the homes by 11:30 p.m., he said. Johnson County REMC had no reported outages as of 9 p.m.

The extreme cold weather strains the electrical system, Middleton said.

Shelters were opened in Greenwood and Franklin, and three residents and a dog stayed at the Greenwood Community Center throughout the day. One couple and a dog stayed into the night, and the shelter will remain open at least into part of Tuesday, Mayor Mark Myers said. No residents came to the Franklin Recreation Center, which was set up as a shelter Monday afternoon, so the city closed it around 6 p.m., parks superintendent Chip Orner said.

The county lifted travel restrictions from a warning to a watch at 5:30 p.m., which means residents are discouraged from travel except for necessary reasons, such as emergencies or going to and from work. The change was made to give local businesses more time to decide if they will open and workers more time to prepare to travel, Baird said.

Traveling on Tuesday morning won’t be easy. Motorists should expect icy roadways on their way to work in the morning no matter where they’re coming from, Baird said.

“The roads aren’t much better tomorrow morning than they were today,” he said.

Roads hadn’t improved by nightfall from the morning, and continue to be dangerous in Greenwood, Myers said. Snow plows were working their way through subdivisions, but it’s possible not all side roads will be cleared by Tuesday morning, he said.

The plows were struggling to move the approximately foot-deep snow out of cul-de-sacs in neighborhoods such as Alden Place because of the amount of snow and hardly anywhere to move it, he said. A broken-down engine in one plow truck and a transmission problem in another have also slowed the progress plowing, he said.

Plows had made passes along every road in Franklin, including neighborhood streets and cul-de-sacs, two or three times during the day and streets are about as clear as they’re going to get, McGuinness said.

Local officials expect to have better luck melting the ice Tuesday, when temperatures are supposed to rise above zero degrees. Even with temperatures around 10 below zero today, some ice was starting to melt when sunlight was hitting the roads, McGuinness said.

The number of slideoff accidents in Franklin increased, but McGuinness said that was likely due to more people attempting to travel compared to Sunday. Drivers were taking travel restrictions seriously, because overall traffic through the city during the day was low, he said.

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