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I-40 eastbound reopened

11:15 a.m. UPDATE:
Officials reopened I-40 eastbound in Albuquerque just after 11 a.m. Tuesday.I40 open

10:28 a.m. UPDATE:

Officials will begin opening I-40 eastbound in Albuquerque starting at with Tramway NE exit at 11:00 a.m. They will then move westward, opening the San Mateo NE exit by 11:45 a.m.

10:00 a.m. UPDATE:

Despite reports that eastbound Interstate 40 might reopen by 9 this morning, police dispatchers are now expecting a reopening by midday.

The interstate has been closed between the Louisiana exit in Albuquerque and the Texas state line since Sunday night.

Despite the hardship imposed on travelers and truckers by shutting the interstate in Albuquerque, Gallegos told us that it is better to be stuck in a large metropolitan area like Albuquerque than in the more remote parts of the state.

Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Transportation is reporting that I-40 remains closed from the Oklahoma state line to the New Mexico state line until further notice from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Amarillo Globe-News reported.

New Mexico DPS spokesman Tony Lynn told the Albuquerque Journal Monday that blizzard conditions in Amarillo prompted Texas officials to ask New Mexico officials to keep eastbound I-40 closed until at least today.

The New Mexico DOT has been saying all morning on its website that eastbound I-40 could reopen by mid- to late morning today.


5:45 a.m. UPDATE:

Highway officials expect eastbound Interstate 40 to reopen mid- to late this morning, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation website.

We’ll let you know as soon as the road reopens.

Meanwhile, eastbound traffic is being detoured from just west of Eubank to Sedillo Hill, and East Mountains motorists are urged to use N.M 333.

12:05 a.m.

By Astrid Galvan / Journal Staff Writer on Tues, Feb 26, 2012

Calvin Hobbs was only supposed to drive through Albuquerque when he got here from California around 6 a.m. Monday, but the winter storm that raged through eastern New Mexico and West Texas kept him in the Duke City for the entire day and overnight instead.

Hobbs, of Georgia, was one of the many drivers stranded in Albuquerque on Monday after authorities decided to keep eastbound Interstate 40 from Tramway to the Texas state line shut down until at least today.

He was staying at the New Mexico Expo State Fairgrounds, which opened its grounds to stranded drivers.

“I’m supposed to be in Alabama tomorrow. I probably won’t make it there until Wednesday now,” Hobbs said. He said having to stay overnight would cost him about $300.

Heavy snow fell overnight, leaving some parts of Quay County with drifts up to 5 feet deep, The Associated Press reported.

Quay County got anywhere between 2 and 8 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service. Tucumcari received 3 inches, while House, which is about 46 miles southeast of Tucumcari, got 8 inches.

Today is expected to be sunny in Tucumcari with winds from 10 to 15 mph in the daytime. Those winds will grow to 20 to 30 mph in the afternoon with gusts of up to 40 mph.

Although the snow in Tucumcari had mostly melted by Monday afternoon, it wreaked havoc in the morning.

Stephanie Jones, a secretary at True Value Lumberyard, said a construction company owned by the lumberyard had to rescue a worker from his home.

The man, a cook at the Pow Wow Restaurant & Lounge, which is owned by the same company, could not leave his home because a snow drift had covered his truck and front yard, Jones said.

“Of course nobody’s wanting to do anything because, you know, it’s cold outside. So we’re not super busy because of it,” Jones said.

Other than a few irate drivers who wanted to get out of town, Monday was also uneventful at Fast Stop 21, a gas station and liquor store on Tucumcari Boulevard just off Interstate 40.

Employee Emma Van Savage said some customers were trying to find other routes to get out of town.

“Like I say, ‘You can’t control the weather. Relax,’ ” she said.

Although much of the snow was gone in Tucumcari by afternoon, Department of Public Safety spokesman Tony Lynn said authorities in Texas, where a major blizzard was hitting Amarillo, asked New Mexico officials to keep eastbound I-40 closed until at least today.

“It’s impassable out in Amarillo. You would just be going like lemmings to the sea and just be stuck out there in the road, in the blizzard,” Lynn said.

Lynn said he did not know what time the interstate might reopen, or how many drivers were stranded in Albuquerque. Residents of the East Mountains were able to commute via Route 66.

“We’d rather keep people in the Albuquerque metro area where we know they’re going to be safe and they have a hotel room if they want one as opposed to getting on the road and possibly getting stuck … You may be able to drive from Albuquerque to Tucumcari and not have any problems as far as the road goes, but once you get there, where do you go?”

The closed interstate created a backup of traffic in Albuquerque — the traffic was at a standstill from Tramway west to San Mateo, at times.

EXPO New Mexico General Manager Dan Mourning said there are 236 acres available for truckers at the Fairgrounds.

“The Fairgrounds is always open for these sorts of emergency situations, evacuations, etcetera,” Mourning said in a news release.

DJ Weimer of Georgia said he would spend the night there, but he wasn’t too upset.

“It happens. You can’t mess with Mother Nature,” Weimer said.

Journal photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis contributed to this report.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal