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Thursday, December 30, 2010

I-17 and I-40 reopen following overnight effort

PHOENIX — As Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) crews gain momentum in clearing ice and snow from overnight storms, the following highway restrictions have been lifted:

* I-17 is now open in both directions. Traffic had been closed Wednesday due to snow and congestion. This reopening will allow motorists to move between Flagstaff and Phoenix, although drivers should expect longer-than-normal travel times and continued snowplow patrols. However, if conditions change drivers should be prepared for delays or temporary closures.

* I-40 is now open in both directions after being closed earlier Thursday from roughly Kingman to Flagstaff to Holbrook. I-40 is a primary national transportation corridor and, like I-17, will remain a top priority for ADOT to keep clear and passable as weather conditions continue to evolve.

* State Route 89A remains closed from Pumphouse Wash at milepost 386 to Forest Highlands Road at milepost 397 due to winter conditions and resource allocation. The highway may open late Thursday afternoon based on weather.

* US 180 remains closed north of Flagstaff and is expected to remains so until at least Friday.

* State Route 77 between Globe and Winkleman has been reopened.

* State Route 366 in Graham County has been closed because gusting winds, snow and icy roads that are causing dangerous conditions. ADOT has deployed available crews and snow removal equipment from the Safford area to more heavily traveled routes on US 191 and US 70. With colder temperatures and more snow possible overnight, ADOT expects to keep SR 366 closed to all traffic until Saturday. Known locally as Swift Trail, SR 366 runs west off of US 191 south of Safford and goes to the top of Mount Graham.

* US 191 is impassible between Morenci and Hannigan Meadow in Greenlee County because snow, wind and ice. Drivers should avoid using the highway, which leads into the White Mountains. Travel though this area is made more difficult by the closure of US 180 in New Mexico, which serves as an alternate route between Morenci and Alpine.

* Other highways in northeastern Arizona, north of Payson, continue to experience extreme weather and whiteout conditions. State Route 87 and State Route 260 require snow chains or four-wheel-drive vehicles; temporary periods of closure in segments may be required based on current weather conditions.

ADOT strongly advises drivers to delay all travel through Thursday or until roadway and weather conditions improve. Commercial vehicles blocking travel lanes are making access by ADOT snowplows difficult, delaying the clearance of snow and ice. Drivers are encouraged to postpone travel until conditions improve later this week and into the weekend.

Before heading out on the roads, drivers are encouraged to call 5-1-1 or log on to ADOT's Traveler Information Center at www.az511.gov for the latest highway conditions around the state, or follow on Twitter @ArizonaDOT. The website features images along state highways that give drivers a glimpse of weather conditions in various regions. Driver safety tips are available from ADOT at KnowSnow.

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