Subzero temperatures challenging street crews

South Bend, Ind. Street crews throughout Michiana haven't caught a break since a massive winter storm rolled in over the weekend.

In South Bend, they've been working around the clock in 12-hour shifts since Saturday. And, the extreme cold is making clearing streets challenging.

"In these temperatures, nothing really works the way it normally does," said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who met with street crews Monday night. "Even salt doesn't work at all with these temperatures."

That means the city has no way to melt the tons of snow it's plowing off roads. Instead, it's being forced to haul it to other locations.

On Monday night, a portion of Jefferson in downtown was closed as crews moved massive piles of snow into large dump trunks.

"We've got extra work going on in order to take all the snow that's accumulated in the downtown area and get it out of downtown," Buttigieg said. "We'll find city-owned property outside the downtown area that will be a safe place to put it. We don't put it in the river for environmental reasons."

Buttigieg says most primary and secondary routes in the city were plowed by Monday night. He hopes to have residential areas dug out by Wednesday morning.

The city, along with St. Joseph County, extended its disaster emergency declaration until noon Tuesday. That means only emergency personnel should be on the road.

"Right now, even a minor accident can turn into a life-threatening emergency because of these extreme wind chills and temperatures," Buttigieg said.

While a few traffic signals were knocked out because of snow-covered power lines, Buttigieg says there were no major problems because of the weekend storm. The 311 call center was open Monday to answer people's questions and took more than 1,000 calls. 311 will also be open Tuesday.

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