Snow strands ‘hundreds’ of drivers on a Kentucky highway for 20 hours

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
Macomb, IL
Winter storms have snarled transportation in several parts of the country, canceling flights and delaying subway trains. For drivers in Kentucky, there has been a different problem: Thanks to the snow, people traveling on Interstate 65 were stranded for nearly a full day.

The highway was shut down near Elizabethtown, Ky., from Wednesday night at 8 p.m. until Thursday afternoon, said Trooper Jeff Gregory, a spokesman for the state police.

He said problems began when “a massive amount of snow” hit on Wednesday night and semi-tractor-trailers had problems getting over a hill not far from Elizabethtown. These vehicles jackknifed across the roadway and blocked the lanes, he said.

As a result, “hundreds” of drivers were stranded, Gregory said, adding that he couldn’t give a more precise approximation.

The state’s transportation cabinet said that on Thursday morning the road was “impassable” in both directions along a 40-mile stretch, adding that the problem was being exacerbated because stranded vehicles were blocking the plows. The road did not begin to reopen until about 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, stranding drivers through much of the day.

“We’ve been parked in the same spot since 8 p.m.,” Peggy Wilson, 70, told the Lexington Herald-Leader in a phone interview on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

Once the semis were moved on Thursday afternoon, traffic was able to get moving again. “There’s still cars that haven’t moved yet,” Gregory said during a telephone interview at around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. “There’s relief in sight for them.”

State troopers and the Kentucky National Guard both responded, patrolling the interstate and helping people who needed fuel, water or were having any kind of emergency.

At least there has been a relatively tiny silver lining: The massive backup has come without any major crashes.

“We haven’t had any serious accidents, luckily,” Gregory said of the region that includes the stranded drivers, though he said that this was due to the fact that there hasn’t been much traffic. He urged people to stay home if possible, adding that many secondary roads are in bad shape in the region.

Gov. Steve Beshear (D) declared a state of emergency for Kentucky on Thursday, warning of snow that could approach 20 inches in some areas.

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