Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 7, 2014

Truck traffic overwhelms city

Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Overwhelming truck traffic gridlocked both directions of Keller Drive Tuesday morning.

"We're working with police department to get something opened up as best we can," said Effingham Fire Chief Joe Holomy, adding the biggest issue is getting truckers needing fuel off the interstate.

"The inclines are so ice-packed, they (trucks) get stuck and we have to use tow trucks to get them out," he said.

Holomy said Petro at Fayette Avenue and Outer Belt Weat are all gridlocked as well.

Holomy said the city's emergency plan is as truckers get fuel to try and get them maps to exit the city.

"We're trying to get them fuel and out," he said.

The truck traffic coming off the interstates is so overwhelming Holomy said another staging area has been set up at Village Square Mall to handle the overflow.

The city has two warming centers currently set up at EPC and Ron Diehl Center. However, a third is on standby if needed, Holomy said.

While the city currently has many plans in place, the fact that the number of trucks has exceeded the designated areas, has forced them to continually revise those plans.

"We meet three to four times a day to keep plans updated," he said.

A major issue has been getting fuel to truckstops. Two within the city ran out of fuel Monday, but gridlock impeded the fuel trucks from getting in until emergency services helped get them through.

"Fuel keeps coming in but trying to get them through is a task," he said.

Holomy said the need for fuel is dire as some trucks have pulled in with less than 3 percent.

"They've been stranded on the interstate for so long, they're using a lot of fuel," he said.

Holomy said most truck drivers have been cooperative.

So long as the interstates remain open, Holomy said there will be a constant stream of trucks stopping.

"I anticipate this being an issue into today and tonight," he said Tuesday.

Holomy strongly urges residents to avoid going out at all. He added the issue is keeping traffic moving.

"Roads are ice-packed and the temperature is still too cold for salt to work. If you don't have to go out, DON'T," he said.