Weekend weather affects some students’ arrivals

Katie Smith, Editor-in-Chief

Although the roads surrounding the Charleston area were mostly clear of ice and snow by press time, conditions earlier Sunday prevented some students from traveling back to campus after a weekend at home.

Veronica Popp, a senior communications major, found herself debating whether or not to drive to Charleston Sunday night, or stay home in Oak Lawn, about a three-hour drive from Eastern.

“I am not a very confident snow driver at all so I figured ‘better safe than sorry,’” she said.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) issued a press release Saturday warning drivers about the potentially dangerous winter road conditions.

Vicki Woodard, coordinator of public information said she does not believe the weather has delayed the arrival of Eastern’s future president, who will be announced at the Board of Trustees meeting Monday.

IDOT crews are working to pretreat bridges, overpasses and ramps, which are prone to icing because of cross winds, according to the press release.

Randy Blankenhorn, the Illinois Transportation secretary said although some roads may be clear now, conditions may worsen.

“The potential for more snow means dangerous driving conditions are possible,” Blankenhorn said.

According to the press release, IDOT will have more than 1,700 trucks and 3,700 employees available to respond to the elements statewide.

The Illinois State Police urge drivers to slow their speed, allow extra room for braking and following other vehicles, as well as avoid sudden lane changes and exit the road to a safe location if conditions become too hazardous.

Illinois State Police Colonel Mike Zerbonia said these driving habits are more than guidelines; and although careful driving may not get travelers to their destinations faster, drivers may arrive more safely.

“Winter storms have a significant impact on traffic safety, putting lives at risk,” he said. “Motorists should take every precaution to safeguard themselves and those around them in traffic by following the law and being prepared for hazardous road conditions.”

Popp stays prepared by keeping an emergency-supply kit in her car at all times.

“This is the first time I brought my car to school so my mom made me a care package of blankets and peanuts and a flare and matches,” she said. “I’m stocked and ready to go.”


Katie Smith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].