MUNCIE, Ind. — Travel advisories were easing up by Tuesday night as Delaware County and neighboring counties continued to get the roads cleared of the massive amount of snow from Monday night’s storm.
For a general sense of road conditions in each county, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security maintains a color-coded map indicating travel advisory levels that are set by local officials.
All of the counties in the East Central Indiana by Tuesday night were out of the most serious travel advisory category, though officials have said drivers should remain cautious on roads that crews might have not been able to reach yet.
Delaware, Blackford, Jay, Randolph and Wayne counties all were lowered to a yellow alert status.
Grant, Madison and Henry county remained at orange status.
A yellow advisory is the lowest level of warning and does not restrict travel. Officials ask that excess travel or activities be reconsidered because of a hazardous situation on the roads, and individuals should use caution when out.
If a county is orange on the map, conditions are still considered threatening to the public’s safety. Only essential travel is encouraged such as work commutes or in emergency situations.
The individual status of a county’s travel advisory is announced by a county’s own emergency management agency, though the official policy is set by the county commissioners.
Delaware County never went into orange status during the storm, unlike neighboring counties that went to red, the highest level, at which travel is restricted to emergency workers only. It was a decision that Delaware County officials defended Tuesday afternoon.
“We monitored all (Monday) night,” Shannon Henry, one of the three Delaware County commissioners, said. “Once you go to red you are closing businesses and we didn’t think it was bad enough to do that.”
The commissioner said the roads, while difficult on Tuesday, especially earlier in the day, just were not at a red travel emergency level.
Crews from Delaware County’s Emergency Management Agency drove roads throughout the night to keep as accurate of a picture as possible for officials. On a Tuesday morning conference call, officials debated increasing the status, but ultimately decided against it.
According to John Coutinho, the head of Delaware County’s EMA, the road status is an important tool to which residents should pay attention.
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“As long as people watch and abide by the advisory levels, that gives the road crews a chance to get out and do their jobs,” Coutinho said. The director said that also keeps roadways clear of stranded cars that might block emergency crews trying to reach those in need.
Corey Ohlenkamp is the city/county government reporter. Contact him via email at email@example.com or by phone at 765-213-5874. Follow him on Twitter at @Ohlenkamp.