UPDATE, August 29, 2012
Some travelers unfortunate enough to run out of gas on the Kansas Turnpike today were out of luck. That’s because some gas stations were out of gas themselves.
Both the Towanda and Matfield Green service areas ran out of diesel and unleaded gas due to problems with the supplier.
The head of the Kansas Turnpike Authority tells me that in the more than 50 years the Kansas Turnpike has been in operation, they've never had a no fuel situation like this at two of their service areas.
Susan Snyder and family are moving from New Mexico to Iowa and need gas to stay on schedule. She and her dogs pull into the Towanda service area only to find the ‘out of service’ signs on the pumps.
"While you're on toll road and where do you go?” Snyder asks. “We don't even know this part of the country. So it is hard to know. We don't know where gas is at."
That’s the problem presented to the Kansa Turnpike Authority this week by the Denver-based company leasing these two service areas. PCF Saleco informed the Turnpike board it had a business issue with Conoco Phillips and couldn’t get more fuel.
Kansas Turnpike President and CEO Michael Johnson says, "If those two locations were closed you would have about 106 miles on the turnpike where you couldn't buy any food or fuel. So it's important to us and we think the problem is behind us."
The problem is in their rear view mirror because GasMart USA, based in Kansas City, agrees to take over the leases and is filling the near empty fuel tanks.
But even while the tanks are being filled, travelers were in a dilemma.
"I was just shocked to see that they were out of fuel, because, normally, how do you expect to be out of fuel in Kansas?" says Florida trucker Michael Tyler.
Andy Lassman with the Turnpike Authority Safety Assist gave some drivers. Including Snyder, gas to help them to the next fuel stop.
If GasMart USA hadn't come through with a solution, the Turnpike Authority was prepared to go to court to seek control of these two service areas so they could get fuel flowing to their travelers again.
UPDATE, August 29, 2012
Fuel shipments have arrived at two Kansas Turnpike service stations after the convenience stores ran out of gas.
The Towanda and Matfield Green Service stations ran out of unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel Tuesday night.
KTA officials said the stations were running low after a business problem with provider PCF Saleco. A spokesperson would not elaborate on the deal, but said it was not due to bankruptcy.
The turnpike issued an emergency lease with GasMart USA to provide services to drivers. About 8,000 gallons of unleaded and 8,000 gallons of diesel were delivered to the service stations by Wednesday afternoon.
The KTA says this is the first time it has faced a dire situation.
Tuesday, August 29, 2012
Turnpike authorities have ordered an emergency lease to an Overland Park gasoline company after two service areas ran out of gas.
The KTA said the Towanda Service Station and Matfield Green Service Areas are out of unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel.
The shortage is due to difficulties with PCF Saleco, the current fuel provider. The KTA approved a new leasing agreement with GasMart USA to provide immediate fuel and convenience store services.
The turnpike said a shipment is expected to arrive at Matfield Green by Wednesday afternoon.
State Farm's auto assist will be on the turnpike between Wichita and Emporia Wednesday to help drivers who have run out of fuel.