Friday, December 31, 2010

Dangerous conditions force highway closure

ITD snowplow skids onto its side south of Timmerman Junction


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

An Idaho Transportation Department snowplow sustained minor damage after it skidded off the road and onto its side Wednesday in treacherous driving conditions on state Highway 75 south of Timmerman Junction. Heavy snow and wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour forced closure of the highway between the junction and Shoshone for about four hours Wednesday afternoon. Photo by David N. Seelig

Heavy snowfall, whipped by wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour, led to closure of state Highway 75 south of Timmerman Junction for about four hours Wednesday afternoon.

The closure, between the junction and Shoshone, was put into effect at about 12:30 p.m. after an Idaho Transportation Department snowplow skidded off the road and onto its side south of the junction. ITD spokesman Nathan Jerke said Thursday that the highway remained closed until about 4:30 p.m.

U.S. Highway 20 between Fairfield and Mountain Home was also closed Wednesday and remained closed Thursday morning with no definite word as to when it would reopen.

The Wood River Valley was blanketed with about seven inches of snow Tuesday night and Wednesday morning but was mainly spared from the high winds that made driving more hazardous farther to the south. Only light snow is forecast for the next few days, but temperatures are expected to drop with wind-chill values as low as minus 37 degrees.

Jerke said the ITD snowplow driver wasn't injured and the machine received only minor damage.

"There wasn't any major damage done to the truck, so it should be up and running soon," he said.

Motorists can monitor road conditions in Idaho by dialing 511 or checking the ITD traveler website at 511.idaho.gov.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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