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Slick roads make for tricky driving around county

DeKALB – Dangerous driving conditions caused by a wintry mix that blew through DeKalb County during the weekend should improve throughout the week, county officials said.

Icy roads have kept the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office busy since 8 p.m. Saturday.  Since that time, officers have responded to 10 vehicle collisions – eight of which caused minor injuries – and an additional eight calls from motorists stuck in ditches.

A particularly troublesome area has been Keslinger Road south of Cortland, where a motorist took out a utility pole late Saturday that caused an hour-long road closure near the intersection for Keslinger and Chase Road, as authorities worked to clear power lines from the pavement.

A school bus from DeKalb School District 428 and a Frito-Lay delivery truck collided at the intersection of Keslinger and Somonauk roads Monday morning. Both drivers were treated for minor injuries. The eight middle- and high-school-aged students on board were unharmed.

DeKalb County Sheriff Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie said the first icy conditions of the winter tend to cause more accidents as drivers adjust to slowing down and avoid sliding into ditches.

"It's important to always give yourself more time to get where you need to be and allow more following and stopping distance when roads are bad," Dumdie said.

The county highway department was out early Sunday and Monday, applying roughly 450 tons of salt to combat the slick conditions, county engineer Nathan Schwartz said. The southeast corner of the county had almost completely clear highways while most other county roads had clear wheel paths by Monday afternoon, he said.

He said conditions on township roads varied depending on the surface and how much resources road commissioners had to salt and clear streets.

"If you came from the Chicagoland area, that was a much different storm than what DeKalb County saw," Schwartz said. "We had sleet, snow, ice. A little bit of everything."

Commutes should become easier for residents starting today, said Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste. Temperatures are expected to be in the 30s for the rest of the week with some sunny skies, he said.

A cold front is expected this weekend that will drop temperatures to the teens and single digits, but conditions will be dry, Sebenste said.

"It's going to be the normal, typical winter cold for this time of year," he said. "But there are no major systems coming in the next 10 days at least and maybe longer."

The area received close to an inch of a mixture of snow and freezing rain Saturday.

City crews, who cover far less ground than the county highway system, were able to get out ahead of the storm and keep roads clear. Mark Espy, director of street operations for DeKalb, said crews were out during the storm and prevented any back freezing.

"We aggressively salted when the storm was happening," Espy said. "We should have clean roads all week."   

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