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Massive accident closes 40-mile stretch of I-70 west of Topeka

Highway closed in both directions

December 22, 2007, 1:44 p.m. Updated December 22, 2007, 7:39 p.m.


A 40-mile stretch of Interstate 70 is closed in both directions between just west of Topeka to the Manhattan exit.

The closure from mile marker 353 in Shawnee County to mile marker 313 in Riley County is due to a 25-vehicle pile up that's been blamed on the winter storm.

Kansas Highway Patrol confirmed one fatality in the 40-car pile up this afternoon.

Other injuries have been reported, but the severity is currently unknown, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol official.

Mile marker 313 is the Manhattan/Council Grove exit at Kansas Highway 177. Mile marker 353 is the exit at West Kansas Highway 4 and Auburn Road. The Highway 4 exit is just west of the Interstate 470 and I-70 interchange on Topeka's west side.

Eastbound traffic is detoured to K-177 then across to U.S. Highway 24.

Westbound traffic is detoured to US-75 then across to U.S. 24.

Roads are snow packed and hazardous, according to a Kansas Department of Transportation official, who said multiple vehicles are off road in many locations.

KDOT is advising drivers to stay off roads.

Currently, KDOT crews are plowing and treating roads with a salt/sand mixture.

Blowing snow and poor visibility are creating extremely hazardous conditions on roads for drivers and making it very difficult for maintenance crews to keep roads cleared, according to a KDOT official.

More details as they develop.

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Ragingbear 10 years, 6 months ago

They probably meant that they closed down a 40 mile stretch of highway due to the high numbers of accidents occurring in that area due to snow,ice,bicyclist and Lawrence drivers. Not that there was a single accident that was 40 miles big. That would be an accident that Hollywood would use in their next James Bond flick.

1029 10 years, 6 months ago

they have to use certain exits in order to create the most efficient detours.

Ragingbear 10 years, 6 months ago

I heard that all the toll booths have switched to new payment method. They are now apparently charging carbon credits.

Bladerunner 10 years, 6 months ago

I just drove in from Topeka an hour ago and at times visibility was zero. I was glad to make it home.

tyger_lily 10 years, 6 months ago

I attempted to drive home to Salina today, left Lawrence at 10 when nothing was coming down, decided to turn around right before the first rest stop past Topeka. Took me around 2 hours to get back to Lawrence, massive wrecks and almost complete white out visability. There were no wrecks on the turnpike then but people were everywhere because you couldn't see the lines. Of course all the people with huge SUVs would fly past us with little cars, got to see a couple of them in the ditch further up the road too.

busymom 10 years, 6 months ago

The SUV's are a blast. So are the people who think it's the people who drive slow in these conditions that are the problem. I had to drive and prayed each time that the car behind me wouldn't slam into me at a stop sign or a light.

labrat1996 10 years, 6 months ago

We saw the aftermath of the accident today on I-70 and it was impressive. It was three vehicles across - several of the cars looked as though they were wedged between a bus and a semi. Other cars were pushed against the guardrails. Very ugly scene. We were headed west thank goodness. There were cars everwhere - overturned and in ditches. I don't know how my dad saw to drive when we were leaving Topeka. It was a virtual whiteout.

Lowell Holmes 10 years, 6 months ago

I left Junction City at noon and did not get back to Lawrence till 6:30. It was bumper to bumper and 5 to 10 mph all the way from Manhattan to Topeka on 24 HWY. I lost count of the number of cars I saw in the ditch. Some of them were SUV's which I felt kinda ironic as I puttered on by in my little front wheel drive car.

Claire Williams 10 years, 6 months ago

I worked in Manhattan today, and left at about 1:15. I got back to Lawrence at 6:09. I took back roads from Manhattan to Wamego (because traffic was backed up for miles in Manhattan), then got on US 24 there. That lasted only about 30-40 minutes, because at St. Marys there must have been another accident and traffic was stopped dead for 40+ minutes. I ended up going north on K63 at St. Marys, then cutting through the Pottawatomi Indian Rez over to US 75, about 30 miles out of the way just to make it back to US 24 from Topeka to Lawrence. Visibility is awful, especially now that it is dark, and in places the drifts are 12+ inches. I encourage everybody to STAY HOME if you can.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 6 months ago

Last snow and ice storm every accident I saw involved an SUV that could go like hell, but still had to stop like everyone else.

Curtis Martell 10 years, 6 months ago

I heard there was a new roundabout on I70 that no one could see because of the the snow and thats what caused the big accident.

ontheotherhand 10 years, 6 months ago

lawrenceguy, you are EVIL! :) I read your comment to my friends--we laughed our heads off. Thanks!

On a serious note, I hope everyone stays safe tonight!

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 6 months ago

"Currently, KDOT crews are plowing and treating roads with a salt/sand mixture."

I just finished driving from the plaza back to Lawrence on I-70 and I did not see a single plow! Not only did I not see a plow, I did not see ANY evidence of there having been a plow period!

Where are all of the plows???

The only snow plow on the road was my car!

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 6 months ago

Ditto about the insane SUV drivers. I saw two who blazed past me with their brights on in the ditch later on.

SUV drivers are the biggest danger in poor weather.

black_butterfly 10 years, 6 months ago

Erin, hun you need to brush up on your reporting skills. Was it a 25 car pile up or a 40 car pile up? I am sorry for the people involved in the pile up, and I agree about the SUV's. People act like they are invinsible in them. I have four wheel drive but I still drive cautiously. Hint for the SUV drivers.... All the 4 wheel drive in the world doesn't matter when the roads are really slippery- especially when you insist on driving fast !!!!! Hope that you all that ended up in the ditch had AAA+.

hawklet21 10 years, 6 months ago

FORTY cars?! Hope those officers/firemen/ambulance crews/tow guys are keeping warm! I wish I could've brought them coffee and cocoa today. :)

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