Lessons learned from Hwy 287 closure

Paul Braun, TxDOT
Paul Braun, TxDOT

By: Michelle Langowski
NewsChannel 10

It was a holiday to remember for those travelers who were stuck along Highway 287 Christmas Eve and part of Christmas day.

Some wonder if measures could have been taken to prevent such a standstill.

Crews from Amarillo and surrounding areas lent a helping hand to those stranded for almost 24 hours late last week.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted this storm. Forecasters predicted one to three inches of snow - we got fifteen and a blizzard. So we got completely snowed under and overwhelmed," said information officer for TxDOT in Wichita Falls, Adele Lewis.

This was the scene Christmas Eve as travelers along Highway 287 found themselves stuck in their vehicles until Christmas morning.

TxDOT had crews from nearby areas come to assist in clearing roads and accidents.

Crews say motorists would try and go around cars stuck ahead of them, and find themselves in a ditch as well... making it difficult for crews to get through.

"When the cars wreck out we have them in a ditch or the side of the road, not blocking much traffic, but when you have a semi wreck-out on a highway, just a two-lane road like 287, then you're closed down for good," said Lewis.

TxDOT has received criticism for not closing the road down earlier due to dangerous driving conditions.

Paul Braun, information officer for TxDOT in Amarillo says, "we try and keep the roads open as much as possible so that commerce can move and people can move. We may have gotten the same amount of criticism had the roads been closed and not allowed people to arrive over the Christmas holiday."