Motorists eager to leave snowstorm behind - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Motorists eager to leave snowstorm behind

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PRINCETON (WVVA) - The snow is melting, major roads are relatively clear, but for many travelers, last night was horrific as hundreds were stranded on Interstate 77.

Traffic was detoured off of the I-77 at Exit 9 in Princeton to relieve some of the pressure, and for some, that meant finding a place to stay overnight and wait it out.

Hotels across Mercer County were booked up for the night – including the Quality Hotel in Bluefield -- leaving many people to sleep on couches in the lobby.

Travelers who got off at Exit 1 in Bluefield to stay the night say they were fortunate to find a hotel that didn't turn them away.

"They gave us a huge meeting room and moved about 150 chairs out of there and put in two rollaways," said Jack McGwire who was traveling from Ohio. "So we had this tavernous room and the dogs were loving it of course."

The manager of the Quality Hotel Kim Bowman says she estimates they had about 300 people staying last night.

For those that couldn't reach an exit, the situation meant staying in their vehicles -- some of them for more than 12 hours.

WVVA found around 200 truckers camped out at the Walmart parking lot in Princeton, causing heavy traffic buildups early Friday morning as those drivers were digging out their big rigs.

Roadways might have been clear of snow, but were quickly filled with hundreds of tractor trailers.

"It was a little chaotic," said Patrick Conway of Princeton. "It took me about 40 minutes to get to work this morning and it was wall-to-wall trucks and everyone just pretty much camped out from the snow last night."

I-77 northbound was opened around 4 a.m. Friday morning. The southbound land wasn't cleared until around 10 a.m.

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