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Chicago Skyway Reopens After Closure Due To High Winds, Debris

Updated 11/12/15 - 2:43 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago Skyway reopened Thursday afternoon, after it was shut down for about 12 hours when whipping winds sheared off metal roofing material on a bridge over the Calumet River.

Skyway officials closed the elevated tollway between 91st and 106th Streets around 2:20 a.m. Thursday, after several metal sheets on the top of the Calumet River bridge were blown loose by gusting winds, leaving them swaying over the roadway, and creating a hazard for passing motorists.

The metal sheeting was being used by a contractor who was painting part of the bridge. It had been secured by cables that snapped during intense winds overnight. Gusts of up to 50 mph were measured in Chicago late Wednesday and early Thursday.

The metal sheeting had been resecured, and the Skyway was reopened to traffic around 2:30 p.m.

The temporary closure on the Skyway created traffic headaches on the Far South Side and in northwest Indiana, including for some drivers who didn't know how to navigate side streets to get where they were going after they were forced off the tollway.

The Keiser family was trying to make it home to Michigan when they were forced off the Skyway early Thursday due to the wind.

"It's not the wind. I mean, we're fine, but obviously the wind is causing trouble, so it would be nice if there were some directions. You know, I'd like to talk to those policemen back there and say 'What do you expect us to do? How do we go east?'" Barbara Keiser said.

The gusting winds also prompted authorities in Indiana to ban many large trucks from the Indiana Toll Road, because they're at risk of tipping over. The ban is in effect until 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday.

"This wind ban is in effect for all triple tractor-trailers, long-doubles (high-profile only), & high-profile oversize permit loads. All other vehicles are permitted," the Indiana Toll Road said in a post on its Facebook page.


Wind gusts of up to 50 mph were blowing throughout the Chicago area Thursday morning, and strong winds were expected to continue through the afternoon.

As of early Thursday, no major damage had been reported in the Chicago area, although there were many reports of downed trees or limbs, and ComEd said more than 12,300 outages had been reported in northeast Illinois as of 6:15 a.m. More than 5,000 of those outages were in Cook County, more than 2,500 were in DuPage County, and more than 1,400 were in Kane County.

In Chicago, the 4300 block of South LaSalle Street was closed Thursday morning, after trees and large limbs were blown over during the storm.

On the North Side, tree limbs were also blown down near the intersection of Lawrence and Springfield avenues.

No injuries have been reported from any of the incidents.

The winds were bringing cooler temperatures to the Chicago area, with temperatures expected to reach only about 47 on Thursday, and only 42 on Friday, before going up to the 50s on Saturday and Sunday.

Rain could return to the area Monday night into Tuesday.


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