Emergency personnel warn drivers: Stay home, get off the roads
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2009 2:29 pm
Waynesville firefighters examine a rollover crash in front of Rice's Cleaners on Highway 17 north of Waynesville Saturday morning.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Feb. 28, 2009) — Waynesville Assistant Fire Chief Andy Baker has a clear warning for drivers: “It’s too darn slick, stay at home!”
Baker said that about 11 a.m. Saturday while on the scene of the Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District’s fourth crash of the day, a silver Chevrolet Equinox van that slid off Highway 17 in front of Rice’s Cleaners and landed on its top. The passenger was able to get out of the van on her own and told Pulaski County Ambulance District crews she didn’t need medical help; firefighters and paramedics then joined Waynesville police in hunting for another reported rollover elsewhere in the city that they never located.
Both the Waynesville and Hazelgreen fire districts called all available personnel to report to their fire stations, and Baker said nobody should be on the roads except emergency personnel.
“The roads are real slick; now’s not the time to be out,” Baker said. “If you don’t have to be out, don’t be out.”
Officials with the Springfield office of the National Weather Service have issued a winter storm warning that’s expected to run until 6 p.m. tonight. According to National Weather Service reports, the winter storm is expected to drop up to eight inches of snow in the affected regions, including two to four inches this afternoon. Visibility will drop at times to less than a quarter-mile, adding to driving hazards. North winds and unseasonably cold temperatures with a low about 17 degrees will drop wind chill values into the single digits tonight and early Sunday.
While Pulaski County rescue personnel were tied up much of Saturday racing from crash to crash, conditions both east and west of the county were much worse. Pulaski County received an emergency request for response to a hazardous material spill in Laclede County at eastbound mile marker 115 of Interstate 44 near Conway, where a fuel truck overturned and resulted in numerous other crashes.
The crash happened about 9:12 a.m. and initially blocked both eastbound and westbound lanes; the westbound lanes were opened at 12:39 p.m. As of 1:45 p.m., Missouri Department of Transportation personnel reported all eastbound lanes were still blocked and they expected crash cleanup to take at least three to four more hours.
According to MoDOT reports, eastbound traffic must exit at Conway Exit 113, taking Routes J to CC to A and re-entering the interstate at mile marker 118. MoDOT personnel cautioned that the roads are “farm-to-market-type highways” and urged extra care when using them as a detour.
A major crash at mile marker 176 in Phelps County about 11:43 a.m. blocked both eastbound and westbound lanes; MoDOT personnel reported at 12:56 that a single lane of traffic was open in both directions and reported again at 1:45 p.m. that all lanes were cleared but said to expect extended travel times due to backed-up lines of cars.
Numerous smaller wrecks happened in and near Pulaski County.
About 9:45 a.m., Hazelgreen firefighters responded to a wreck involving two pickups at mile marker 147 of westbound Interstate 44 and of a SUV pulling a boat at mile marker 142 facing eastbound in the westbound lane, and asked for emergency backup from MoDOT plow crews near the bridges over the Gasconade River. Hazelgreen firefigthters later responded to a vehicle that slid down a steep ravine on Highway 7 north of Interstate 44 exit 150.
Dixon firefighters responded to a crash on Highway 28 near Dogpatch at 9:30 a.m. with a single car smashing into a tree; another wreck near the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge over the Gasconade River happened around 1:30 p.m. and sheriff’s deputies took a report since state troopers were too busy to respond.
About noon, emergency personnel responded to a vehicle that slid into a ravine on Longview Road off Highway 17, the access road to Shalom Mountain and Northern Heights Estates.
A major interstate blockage happened about 1:30 p.m. with a crash between two semi trucks on the interstate running through St. Robert near mile marker 162; the blocked roadway prevented emergency personnel from reaching the crash for an extended period until state troopers escorted a MoDOT plow down the shoulder to clear an access.
Little information was available on any of the crashes but none were believed to involve injuries.
Road Condition Updates:
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 20:11 MoDOT reported that all of Interstate 44 is open to traffic, but cautioned that several miles are covered or partially covered and urged drivers to take extra care overnight. As of 9:15 p.m., MoDOT reported that all of I-44 in Pulaski County was snow-covered and that Highway 17 in Pulaski County both north and south of I-44 was partly snow-covered. A stretch of Highway 17 in far southwestern Pulaski County west of Fort Leonard Wood was in worse condition and was reported as snow-covered. For further information on road conditions, drivers can check a MoDOT road condition map at http://maps.modot.mo.gov/travelerinformation/TravelerInformation.aspx
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 19:36, MoDOT reported that DUE TO TREACHEROUS ROAD CONDITIONS EASTBOUND I-44 AT MILE MARKER 140 TRAFFIC IS NOW MOVING SLOWLY, BUT ALL LANES ARE NOW OPEN.
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 18:21, MoDOT reported that DUE TO TREACHEROUS ROAD CONDITIONS EASTBOUND I-44 REMAINS CLOSED AT MILE MARKER 140. ESTIMATED DURATION IS FOUR HOURS. THIS CLOSURE HAS BEEN MOVED FIVE MILES FURTHER WEST THAN THE ORIGINAL CLOSURE AT RICHLAND EXIT 145.
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 17:42, MoDOT reported that THERE IS A CRASH ON EASTBOUND I-44 AT MILE MARKER 160. ALL LANES ARE OPEN.
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 16:58, MoDOT reported that the Richland road closure (reported below) has been moved five miles farther west to MM 140, due to treacherous road conditions, with an estimated duration of four more hours before clearance.
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 16:56, MoDOT reported that there has been no change in the situation of the crash on eastbound I-44 at Mile Marker 160 and all lanes remain closed. MoDOT urges drivers to use other routes.
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 16:24, MoDOT reported that it will close Interstate 44 East at its junction with MO 133 - Exit 145 in Richland. When the lanes clear of traffic, crews will clear accident scenes and remove snow. Expect the lanes to reopen around 6:30 pm Central Time. Eastbound traffic should consider exiting I-44 by Lebanon (Exits 127 and 129) and find a place to park for the duration of the closure. Alternate routes in the area are limited to two-lane, snow-covered highways.
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 16:25, MoDOT cautioned that I-44 Eastbound is closed at MM 145 in Pulaski County near the Laclede County line. Snow, drifts, and treacherous conditions have lead to multiple stranded vehicles and some traffic accidents on I-44 in Pulaski County near the Laclede County Line (Mile Marker 145). The Missouri Department of Transportation in cooperation with the Missouri State Highway Patrol has decided to close the eastbound lanes at this location. The lanes are expected to be closed approximately 2 hours while forces seek to address the road conditions and restore traffic movement.
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 15:36 MoDOT reported the I-44 INCIDENT IN PULASKI COUNTY WAS CLEARED FOR TRAFFIC ON EASTBOUND I-44 AT MILE MARKER 156, BUT ALL LANES ARE OPEN.
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 15:40, MoDOT reported THERE IS A CRASH ON EASTBOUND I-44 AT MILE MARKER 160. ALL LANES CLOSED. PLEASE USE OTHER ROUTES.
At Sat, 28 Feb 2009 15:29, MoDOT REPORTED THERE IS A CRASH ON EASTBOUND I-44 AT MILE MARKER 156. ALL LANES ARE CLOSED. PLEASE USE OTHER ROUTES. ESTIMATE DURATION IS 4 HOURS.