By JASON STRICKLAND
(digitalBURG) – At about 3:15 p.m. on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I began the 120-mile journey back to UCM from Fulton, Mo., after fall break.
There are two main ways to get from Fulton to Warrensburg – U.S. 50 and I-70. I chose the latter – bad choice.
Almost an hour into the drive, I saw that dreaded sight of brake lights in front of me. An incident on the Interstate caused me and everyone else to come to a complete stop at mile marker 102 in the Boonville, Mo., area during the rush of post-Thanksgiving travel.
The pack of vehicles was at a stop-and-go pace for 45 minutes, and then finally the pace slowly climbed its way back to normal. So the two-hour drive ended up being 2 hours, 45 minutes.
If I had left later like many UCM students did, then the trip would have been twice as long.
When I got to Warrensburg at about 6 p.m., the Nattinger-Bradshaw parking lot was about four-fifths empty. Some of the residents may have been stuck on I-70, because about an hour later a tractor-trailer lit the dark Interstate as it caught fire at about the same spot I had to stop nearly three hours earlier. Traffic was backed up for more than two hours.
Leaving nearly four hours before the fire saved me about two hours of drive time. The fire wasn’t the only problem in that area of I-70. KMIZ, an ABC affiliate out of Columbia, Mo., reported that at about 2:45 p.m. a car hit an embankment at mile marker 118. That was one of 350 crashes the Missouri State highway Patrol reported during the Thanksgiving holiday.
While the fire had holiday motorists backed up on I-70, my roommate, Robert Railton, was on his way back from Fulton on U.S. 50. He usually takes I-70, but decided not to because of the holiday traffic – wise choice.
So, for the motorists like him who avoided I-70, it was a much less eventful drive for motorists like me who gambled on the Interstate.
Of course, the main tip for traveling in general is simple – plan ahead. Figuring out when the best time to leave for the trip, when to come back and what roads to take are all important in saving time and money when traveling.
To help motorists plan any trip, MoDOT has a Traveler Information mobile app for iPhones, Androids, iPads and tablets that has information on Missouri road conditions, work zones, flooding and incidents.