March 5, 2013

Mayor Emanuel Reminds Residents To Be Cautious, Allow for Extra Time as Snow System Moves Across the Area

Four to eight inches of snow expected across the city

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

As a significant winter storm system moves across the Chicagoland area, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today joined the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) and other City agencies and departments to outline the City’s efforts to keep residents safe and roadways clear.

“Whether they are walking, driving, biking or relying on public transportation, ensuring the safety of our residents is our top priority, and we encourage everyone to be cautious and allow extra time for travel today,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  “We are working diligently to ensure commuters have access to viable transportation options and we remain focused on clearing our streets as quickly and efficiently as possible.”  

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Chicago through 12 AM tomorrow morning and is forecasting four to eight inches across the area. Accumulating snow should begin by midday and linger into the evening. 

DSS deployed its main fleet of 284 snow trucks onto Chicago’s main streets and Lake Shore Drive.  The trucks are working to first clear and salt the city’s main streets, and then focusing efforts on residential streets. 

During a snow storm, DSS operates from snow command at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.  DSS uses technology to more effectively deploy its resources, including 1,500 cameras that allow us to check snowfalls across the city and monitor traffic conditions, as well as road sensors that provide us with surface temperatures and help determine whether the pavement is wet or dry.

Residents can follow the fleet in real time by viewing the Plow Tracker at

In anticipation of the snow event, DSS crews pre-treated bridge decks, overpasses, and elevated areas with salt.  Additionally, CDOT crews temporarily removed a portion of the median on Lake Shore Drive at North Avenue to allow better access for first responders in the event of an emergency situation.

As work continues on the Wells Street Bridge, the Chicago Department of Transportation urges motorists traveling south to enter the Loop to consider using Clark Street or State Street instead of LaSalle Street to avoid congestion and the CTA shuttle buses that are accommodating rerouted CTA riders.  CDOT officials noted that on Monday morning, travel times for Clark Street were considerably lower than for LaSalle Street. Clark and State will be viable alternatives for motorists for the rest of the week while bridge work continues.

The CTA is taking steps to ensure service during the snowstorm.  In addition to CTA's proactive, regular bus and rail maintenance year-round, all CTA buses and rail cars in winter months are inspected carefully to make sure they can properly operate in the cold weather. In preparation for heavy snow and ice, sleet scrapers attached to the rail cars will be lowered to prevent snow and ice buildup on the third rail and a number of sleet-fighters will be on the 'L' to dispense de-icing fluid to the third rail. Bus garages are will be plowed and salted to ensure vehicles can depart in a timely manner, and rail stations will be continually cleared of snow and ice for customers.

City officials also recommended that travelers check their flight status for delays and/or cancellations before traveling to either of the airports. 

DSS is responsible for clearing 4,100 miles of Chicago roadways to make them safe and passable for residents. In addition to its main fleet of 284 snow vehicles, it has the ability to outfit other vehicles, such as garbage trucks, in our fleet with plows.

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