FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012
Contact: Kristi Sandal, Public Information Officer, 605-773-3265
Interstate 90 closing between Chamberlain and Sioux Falls
Interstate 29 Closing between Sioux Falls and Sisseton
PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota officials are closing Interstate 90 between Chamberlain and Sioux Falls (both east and westbound lanes) and Interstate 29 from Sioux Falls to Sisseton (both north and southbound lanes) effective immediately due to blizzard conditions.
These segments of Interstate will remain closed until conditions improve and crews are able to clear the roadway.
Officials with the state Departments of Transportation and Public Safety say widespread areas of white-out conditions with zero to near zero visibility, icy roads, as well as blowing and drifting snow are making safe travel almost impossible in many areas of the state.
“We understand that people want to be on the roads and about their business, but we ask for patience while our maintenance crews clear the roads,’’ said Greg Fuller, director of operations for the South Dakota Transportation Department. “Strong winds are expected to continue over a large portion of South Dakota into the early evening hours. That means travel will continue to be a challenge, and patience is part of making safe choices.’’
The road cameras featured in the SafetravelUSA site can be a valuable tool when making travel decisions. However, the views from the cameras can be deceiving. The cameras are mounted at a relatively high elevation and may not give a true picture of ice conditions or the severity of ground blizzards occurring at highway level. They also do not show road conditions in between areas where cameras are located.
Officials ask the traveling public to have confidence in the road conditions that have been posted to www.safetravelusa.com/sd/ and 511 and check them when making travel plans.
Though most highways in South Dakota are open, many have no travel advisories and motorists should expect difficult travel conditions until the precipitation and wind finally diminish.
Motorists are reminded that state law includes both criminal penalties and a civil fine of up to $1,000 for being on a closed highway. Motorists found traveling on closed sections of I-90 and I-29 during the closure will be in violation of state law. A stranded traveler could also be charged for the cost of a rescue effort, up to $10,000.
If you must travel, the Departments of Transportation and Public Safety recommend travelers also take the following steps.
- Wear your seatbelt.
- Travel during the day.
- Drive with your headlights on so motorists behind you can see you.
- Use highly traveled roads and highways.
- Keep family and friends informed of your travel schedule and route.
- Call 511 or visit safetravelusa.com for road conditions.
- Keep a winter weather survival kit in your car. The kit should include blankets, warm clothing, water, energy bars, a flashlight, a distress flag, a shovel and matches.
- Travel with a charged cell phone, but don’t rely on it to get you out of a bad situation.
- Change travel plans as weather conditions warrant.
If you do get stranded:
- Run the engine and heater about ten minutes an hour to stay warm.
- When the engine is running, open a window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clearing snow from the exhaust pipe will also help prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
- When it’s dark outside, turn on your interior light so rescuers can see you.
- Put up a distress flag, or spread a large colored cloth on the ground to attract attention from rescuers.
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