LITTLE ROCK — Icy road conditions caused traffic backups on interstate highways in eastern Arkansas that left motorists stranded overnight, the Arkansas State Police said Tuesday.

LITTLE ROCK — Icy road conditions caused traffic backups on interstate highways in eastern Arkansas that left motorists stranded overnight, the Arkansas State Police said Tuesday.


The problems began in the early hours on the 70-mile stretch of Interstate 55 between Interstate 40 and the Missouri state line.


"There was a point in time overnight that both north- and southbound (lanes) came to halt," Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said. "By 7:30 (Tuesday) morning, northbound was moving well but southbound had begun to slow and come to a stop."


By late Tuesday afternoon the southbound lane was moving, but it was moving slowly, Sadler said.


Meanwhile, traffic on both the west- and eastbound sides of I-40 came to a stop Tuesday afternoon on the 40-mile stretch of I-40 between Forrest City and West Memphis. Sadler said that by late Tuesday afternoon traffic was moving slowly on both sides of the highway.


The situation on I-40 "has changed dramatically … with the help of the Highway Department and state police, (with) state police getting in front of these plows and the sand trucks and behind them to clear at least one lane," he said. "Unfortunately, some of the most dangerous parts of the roadway are in the single lane of the construction zones. The troopers are trying to clear those construction-zone single lanes to allow those sand trucks and plows to get in there."


The state Game and Fish Commission had six trucks traveling along the shoulders of both I-55 and I-40 Tuesday to check on motorists and provide fuel for vehicles that were running low, Sadler said. By Tuesday afternoon no injuries or health emergencies had been reported, he said.


The Arkansas State Police was encouraging travelers to avoid those stretches of interstate Tuesday if possible.


Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters the traffic problems were "awful" and said the Arkansas National Guard was assisting state agencies in responding to the situation.


"We’ve marshaled forces from everywhere," he said.


The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has said its crews pre-treated highway bridges and overpasses in advance of the later-winter storm that swept across the state Sunday night and early Monday but that the storm began with heavy rains that washed the anti-icing mixture away.