Highway conditions are improving Friday but many residential streets remain snow-packed.
Tow lots already are filled with abandoned cars, and those numbers are expected to climb dramatically as the day wears on.
The Missouri Department of Transportation had about 70 cars towed from area highways and taken to a state lot as well as the parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium.
"It was critical for the safety of the traveling public and our crews that we get them moved out of the way quickly so we could continue to clear our major routes throughout the night," said MODOT Assistant District Engineer Chris Redline. "It would have been impossible to open certain roads by this morning's rush hour without first clearing the abandoned vehicles."
But MODOT wasn't charging drivers picking up their vehicles on Friday. Instead, they said the $200 fee would be submitted to insurance companies first.
"Yesterday was just a mess so we're just trying to make it easy on everybody as much as we can," said Rusty James of MODOT. "We are going to bill the insurance companies or send them a bill later. We just want to get these cars back to their rightful owners."
This put smiles on the faces people who owned vehicles towed by MODOT's request.
Many residents had gone to work in the morning before the snow blew in. Workers were sent home as businesses closed as the snow piled up, but roads had already turned treacherous.
Angela Cater had to pay $200 to get her car back. She had to abandon it in the middle of Interstate 435 near Holmes Road.
"We couldn't help that it was a snow storm and we had to go to work," she said, adding she would have been fired if she hadn't showed up. "People have families to take care of."
Kansas City police responded to nearly 300 calls of stranded motorists plus the dozens that officers happened to come upon.
Some drivers reported being stranded for hours. The owners of vehicles battled Friday to recover their cars. They would go to one location thinking their vehicle was there only to find out the car was somewhere else. Some said they were having trouble getting answers.
"Nerve racking!" is how one vehicle owner described the situation.
One Lenexa resident was forced to spend the night at the Quality Inn in Merriam. His car became stuck on Interstate 35 and he had to walk to the hotel. He was going to have to call Kansas Highway Patrol or Lenexa police to find out where his vehicle had been towed to.
Altogether, Lenexa police said about 300 vehicles were abandoned inside the city limits. Very few towed cars were involved in crashes with damage. The vast majority were stuck vehicles that stranded the occupants.
Kansas City Police Capt. Jim Preutting said removing dozens of abandoned vehicles that could impede traffic is a priority, but it will take time.
"There's a lot of places where people just abandoned cars in middle of roadway. And there are only so many tow trucks out here. There are more cars than we can possibly tow off the street. So they're going to have trouble navigating the street," he said Thursday night.
Snow plows for the Kansas and Missouri departments of transportation worked all night treating area highways. Some problems were reported, but nothing as significant as those that paralyzed the area on Thursday.
Some crews are working 12-hour shifts.
Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte said public works crews are working feverishly.
"Because of the extent of the snowfall, we will probably have to double up on our trucks which will slow down our response, but we are going to get to it as fast as we can and we are going to work on it until we are done," he said.
Snow-packed conditions do persist and motorists are urged to use caution. Drivers should buckle up, allow for extra time, stay a safe distance from other vehicles and drive slowly. Pack patience and put the cell phone down, officials say.
You can find traffic conditions at www.kctv5.com/traffic.
If your vehicle was abandoned in Kansas city, the municipal tow lot is at 7750 E. Front St. The tow lot is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.
For more information, call 513-513-0692. The starting fee is $200. The storage fee is $30 per day, which will be waived if the vehicle is picked up within the first 24 hours.
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