Tornado shelters provided for drivers along Kansas Turnpike

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Stormy weather might make traveling tricky for those returning from the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

That's why the Kansas Turnpike wants drivers to know it has shelters at nearly all of its plazas for the public to use in an emergency.

Inside a convenience store at the Lawrence Service Area is a fortified concrete bunker that serves as a storage room most of the time.

But in a tornado emergency, dozens of people can seek shelter inside.

In 2015, the Kansas Turnpike Authority installed 30 shelters like this one all along the 236 miles of toll road that cuts through the middle of "Tornado Alley."

For truck drivers like Brandon Toliver, the shelters provide some peace of mind when he sees a storm on the horizon.

"I’ve been in it a few times myself and when the weather gets bad you just kind of got to make your best judgment," Toliver said. "There’s no signs. There’s no written book for this. You kind of got to use your common sense and your judgment out here to make the best decision. Or it could cost you your life."

The manager of the convenience store says he's never had to use the shelter, but customers do ask about it when the sky is gray.

He said the turnpike did have a scare last week near Emporia, Kansas, when a tornado was spotted there. Workers on the tollway did use the shelters then.

If you're planning a trip on the turnpike, you can learn where all of the tornado shelters are located by CLICKING HERE.

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