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Drivers stranded in traffic on Catalina Highway

Posted at 6:03 PM, Jan 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-10 20:03:33-05

PIMA COUNTY (KGUN-9) - Hundreds of drivers were forced away from Mt. Lemmon today. The road up to the mountain got so overcrowded that it had to be shut down.

Many drivers had to turn around after waiting in line for more than an hour on Catalina Highway.  

"I brought the Jeep out and the kids to play in some snow," said Chris Stone as he waited in traffic. 
If you wanted to see snow today, you were going to have to get in line. Traffic stretched from milepost zero, all the way south to Tanque Verde road. The back up left many drivers stranded and disappointed. 
"Of course there's a line of at least 200 cars trying to get up there and no one is going to get up there," said Eliseo Sewart-Ruiz.
Most of the drivers we talked to said it's the worst line on that highway that they've ever seen. Stop-and-go traffic forced dozens of people out of their cars after waiting in line for more than an hour.
If you got there early enough, deputies were only letting cars with chains and four wheel drive up the mountain. But for drivers who aren't used to icy conditions, it can be a dangerous trip. 
"Yesterday we were up here and even with chains we saw four people stuck," said stone. "There was a jeep pulling people out and he was charging so I guess if people want to pay then go ahead and get stuck."
Eventually the traffic got so bad that deputies were only letting one car up as one came down. But even that plan didn't last long. Around 1 p.m. the highway completely shut down. 
The highway remains closed Sunday night. Only residents and employees are allowed up with chains and four wheel drive. The road to Mt. Lemmon is expected to be back open Monday morning.