Winter weather causes traffic headaches across Wichita area, other parts of Kansas

Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 5:33 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2020 at 5:33 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, 2020: With at least a temporary improvement in local road conditions, there remains caution with more freezing precipitation possible. In Sedgwick County, the Emergency Accident Reporting Plan remains in effect. This means anyone involved ina crash in which no one is injured, the vehicles involved are driveable and no alcohol or drugs played a factor in the crash, you don’t need to call 911. You instead can exchange information at the scene and head to a local QuikTrip or police substation to fill out an accident report. In a window from 5 a.m. to noon Monday, Sedgwick County dispatch said there were reports of 120 vehicle accidents.

The City of Wichita and the Kansas Department of Transportation said crews have been treating roads since Sunday night and will continue to do so as winter weather continues this week. Storm Team 12 said cold continues with more chances for snow, sleet and freezing rain through Tuesday night. Rain chances follow Wednesday and Thursday before drier, warmer air arrives Friday.

The City of Wichita and K-DOT reported using plow trucks, brine solution and sand mix to combat the wintery mix, helping local drivers.

“For the rest of (Monday), we’re going to be plowing snow when and where we see it,” Wichita Public Works and Utilities Interim Director Ben Nelson said. “And behind the plows, we’re also going to be dropping the salt and the sand mix. So we try to continue to have a continued build-up of the ice-and-snow-fighting material.”

For drivers across the Wichita area and beyond, KDOT Public Affairs Manager Tom Hein advised drivers to give themselves extra time and to wear their seatbelts.

In Salina, drivers faced a challenge Monday morning, having to travel on Interstate 135 or Interstate 70 before conditions improved.

Victoria Vinyard, who lives in Saline County and drives to Lindsborg for work said while the snow wasn’t very deep Monday morning, roads on the interstates were “really bad” in places.

Monday morning, Vinyard said her boyfriend’s mother was involved in a crash on I-70.

“There was a car that spun out of control and I guess the impact wasn’t that hard because they hit the side of the car,” she said.

Update: 10:30 a.m.: The City of Wichita is busy keeping roads treated as winter weather continues in our area. Ben Nelson with Wichita Public Works and Utilities held a briefing Monday morning to explain the city’s response.

The city provides snow and ice maintenance on 1,500 lanes miles of arterial city streets and roughly 300 miles of secondary and school routes. They do not plow or treat residential streets or highways. Highways are handled by K-DOT.

Nelson said they will often pre-treat the roads with a brine mixture ahead of a winter storm, but did not in this case because rain was forecast to come before the snow and ice and that rain would have washed the brine from the roads.

He says the city activated a full response at midnight, which means 60 trucks and 150 personnel working 12-on/12-off shifts to treat the roads. Nelson expects that to continue through Wednesday.

The city says all 1,800 lane miles of traffic were either treated with salt and sand, or should be treated by the end of the morning.

Trucks spent the morning laying down a 50/50 salt/sand mixture, which provides both traction and ice-melting benefits to roads.

Since we are seeing more snow than initially expected, Nelson says trucks will drive with plows down to help clear away snow.

He expects to have all sixty trucks out and about through Wednesday. The city does have a snow plow tracker, which gives live updates on where the trucks are and where they have been at any given time. But, there was a technical malfunction, so that site is not working. He says IT personnel are working to fix it.

A winter storm is bringing snow, sleet and freezing rain to Kansas - and that’s causing travel troubles and school closures.

-USD 259 (Wichita) IS OPEN TODAY, but several school districts have called off class for today. They include Andover, Derby, Mulvane, Clearwater, El Dorado, Haysville and Rose Hill.

Valley Center and Maize both called off in-person classes. All students will be learning remotely today.

You’ll find a complete list of closures here: School Closings/Delays

-The Kansas Air National Guard is also on a 2-hour delay for non-essential personnel.

-Roads are slick across the state. We are hearing of crashes all over Kansas. Thankfully, as of 6:30 a.m., we have not heard of any serious injuries from those crashes.

Give yourself some extra time before you head out the door this morning. Of course, if you can avoid driving this morning, it may be best to just stay home.

-The Emergency Accident Reporting Plan is in effect for the city of Wichita. That means - if you’re in a fender bender, no one is hurt and no drugs or alcohol are involved, you don’t need to call 911. You can just exchange information with the other driver(s) and fill out a crash report. Those crash reports are available at police substations and Quik Trips. You can also fill one out online here: Emergency Accident Reporting Form

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