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I-24: All Lanes Open, Traffic Moving After 14-Hour Closure

Lance Dennee

Update 9:02pm

Westbound traffic on I-24 is now moving, eastbound still blocked by stalled semi. 

KYTC is reporting traffic backups on I-24 near exit 54 in Caldwell County. 

Two semi trucks running normal interstate speed attempted to exit into snow covered ramps and jackknifed. Road crews are working to clear the site as quickly as possible. 

KYTC urges all motorists to avoid unnecessary overnight travel and to be mindful of potential re-freezing due to extreme cold temperatures. 

Update: 3:49pm 

All eastbound and westbound lanes of I-24 are now open, but Kentucky road crews are still battling traffic obstructions.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd says road conditions are still pretty rough, but traffic is now moving in both directions after coming to a standstill last night, stranding many travelers. 

"Lyon County did an estimate, they thought they counted about 400 cars on their section of I-24 eastbound/westbound stranded," said Todd. "But our guys thought they saw over 500 cars westbound, of those about 100 trucks." 

The eastbound I-24 ramp to I-69 northbound is blocked by a semi-trailer, causing traffic to back up 15 miles onto eastbound lanes of I-24 near Calvert City.

The section of I-24 westbound that was closed between mile markers 50 and 45 has some rough traveling; snow plows are currently working on that section. 

A semi crash on US 62 near I-24 exit 40 interchange near Eddyville-Kuttawa is creating some traffic issues. 

Motorist are asked to slow down and continue to use caution all along I-24 and encourage everyone to avoid travel tonight as low temps create a chance for re-freezing/black ice. 

Todd says crews have been mainly focused on A-routes like interstates and U.S. highways but hopes that less busy roadways in most counties will receive at least one pass before day's end. With subzero temperatures expected tonight, Todd says crews might operate on an emergency-only basis before getting back to work tomorrow. 

Update: 2:20pm

All lanes are now open on  Interstate 24.

KYTC spokesman Keith Todd says tow trucks supplied by the National Guard were able to pull vehicles out of the front end of the traffic snarl, eventually allowing more vehicles to start moving.  

Todd says traffic started moving from the 16 mile marker near Paducah heading eastbound towards Clarksville around 1pm. 

Original Post: 

Upward of 600 vehicles remain stranded on Interstate 24 between Reidland and Cadiz as National Guard, Kentucky State Police and road crews work against the elements to reopen the roadway. 

Gov. Steve Besehar has declared a state of emergency, for the second time in less than a month, that authorized deployment of the National Guard troops and other state resources.

Beshear also urged people to stay off roadways unless necessary to make way for highway crews that are dealing with a rash of jackknifed trucks and stranded vehicles blocking snow plows from clearing roadways. 

KYTC spokesman Keith Todd says the interstate is still closed between mile markers 16 and 65. 

"We have road graders out there right now trying to clear one way but one of the problems we're facing is that people continue to try to travel this section so now we have crashes at [mile marker] 21 and one at mm 27 that are now blocking any access that our snow plows and graters  would have to that particular section in Marshall County. If we can't get out there plowing, then it stays closed longer," said Todd. 

Todd says crews hope to get the eastbound lane on I-24 open by mid-afternoon but are having more issues along the west-bound lane as dozens of semi-trailers are still stuck. 

He says the West Kentucky Parkway is now open in Muhlenberg County.

UPDATE: Interstate 69 southbound in Hopkins County is now clear, previously a double semitrailer blocked traffic for several hours until a large wrecker could arrive and move the obstruction. 

KSP and the National Guard are assisting road crews going from car to car to clear paths and get the vehicles moving again before more traffic can be allowed through. 

Kentucky State Police spokesman Jay Thomas says no injuries or fatalities have been reported so far. 

But while road crews work, hundreds of motorists remain stuck, many of them have been there overnight. 

Roy Oliver is a retired Air Force Sergeant who was stuck in the same spot for more than 12 hours.  He was traveling home to St. Louis after visiting relatives in South Carolina. 

“Luckily I gassed up my car right before it started, so right now I've got three-quarter tank of gas," Oliver said. "Periodically, I start the car to keep warm. That's how I'm doing it."

Oliver said since coming to a stop around 11 p.m., he didn't see any moving vehicles until an emergency vehicle came by to pass out water and snacks at 10:30 Thursday morning. 

Shawn Kruzitski from Mosinee, WI, was headed to Alabama for a fishing tournament but got stuck at a gas station in Calvert City.  

"I think they need to hire a few more plow drivers and maybe get a few more plows on the road because you wouldn't have this problem back up north," said Kruzitski. 

He's been there about five hours and is working with his travel mates on what route to take, most likely a longer route that takes them through Mississippi.  

We'll update this post as more information becomes available. 

Whitney grew up listening to Car Talk to and from her family’s beach vacation each year, but it wasn’t until a friend introduced her to This American Life that radio really grabbed her attention. She is a recent graduate from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., where she studied journalism. When she’s not at WKMS, you can find her working on her backyard compost pile and garden, getting lost on her bicycle or crocheting one massive blanket.
John Null is the host and creator of Left of the Dial. From 2013-2016, he also served as a reporter in the WKMS newsroom.
Rob Canning is a native of Murray, KY, a 2015 TV Production grad of Murray State. At MSU, he served as team captain of the Murray State Rowing Club. Rob's goal is to become a screenwriter, film director or producer and looks to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie for inspiration. He appreciates good music, mainly favoring British rock n' roll, and approves of anything with Jack White's name on it. When not studying, rowing or writing, Rob enjoys spending his free time with a book or guitar.
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