Different travel advisories left many Michiana drivers confused Monday night.
A State of Emergency was declared for Saint Joseph County and South Bend. But, the City of Mishawaka opted to steer clear of any travel restrictions due to weather.
Only emergency personnel were permitted to drive in the county and South Bend. Those who failed to follow the rule faced fines of up to $2500.
“We expected the kind of temperature where even a fender bender could turn into a life-threatening emergency,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg, (D) South Bend. “We needed to keep that pressure off our public safety team until we knew where we stood.”
Mishawaka’s approach was to allow residents to decide whether or not to hit the roads.
“The first thing we do is review if the roads are in good shape,” said Mayor Dave Wood,( R) Mishawaka. “Can police and EMS get where they need to go? We haven’t had issues there. So we are able to go anywhere we need to go.”
The weather troubles impacted businesses throughout the region.
In downtown Mishawaka, there was a steady stream of patrons walking into Zing at lunchtime.
“We checked the website first to see if there was the same restriction in Mishawaka,” said Jeremy Young, managing partner of Zing and Woochi restaurants. “They said there were no restrictions. We called City Hall and they said Mishawaka is fine.”
Young’s other restaurant, Woochi, is located in downtown South Bend. A message to customers indicated that the restaurant was closed at lunchtime due to the travel restrictions.
“We have a lot of loss,” Young said.
Young said he is glad the travel restrictions were lifted at noon – allowing Woochi to open for dinner Tuesday.
“You don’t make these declarations lightly because of the economic impact,” Buttigieg said. “You don’t want to restrict economic activity if you can help it. You want businesses and individuals to make those decisions. But, you don’t want to put public safety crews in dangerous positions by having more traffic on the streets than we can accommodate.”