Archive for Monday, February 26, 2007

Highways reopen after storm

February 26, 2007

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Kansas highways reopened Sunday after a winter storm generated strong winds that whipped up snow drifts up to 7 feet deep and caused one fatal crash in the western part of the state.

All roads were open by shortly after noon, Kansas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Barb Blue said. U.S. 24 from Colby to Hoxie and U.S. 83 from Interstate 70 to Selden were the last to reopen.

The department began closing westbound lanes of highways in far western Kansas on Saturday morning, to accommodate requests by Colorado officials who had already shut down roads in that state.

The storm later moved into northwest Kansas, causing whiteout conditions and forcing a steadily expanding list of road closings that began around noon.

One person died Saturday in Greeley County when a tractor-trailer jackknifed and crashed into two of three vehicles that were stopped in blizzardlike conditions after a noninjury accident on Kansas 96.

The crash killed Robert J. Hughes, 55, of Batesville, Ark. The rig hit him as he was outside his sports utility vehicle preparing to exchange information with the other drivers involved in the initial accident.

But the department reported Sunday that the storm had left the state and strong winds were no longer causing visibility problems.

I-70, which had been closed from Salina west to the Colorado line, reopened about 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Part of the reason for the closure was a lodging crunch caused by state high school wrestling tournaments in Hays and Salina. Also reopening around the same time was U.S. 40, which had been closed from Oakley to Colorado.

Around 8:30 a.m., several other roads reopened, including U.S. 36, U.S. 160, Kansas 25, Kansas 27 and Kansas 161.

Transportation officials cautioned that some sections of highway in western Kansas remain snow-packed and icy. They urged motorists to drive with caution and use speeds appropriate for conditions.

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