Icy roads lead to crashes, spinouts in Twin Citiesby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio,
Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The winter driving season has already begun, and Twin Cities commuters have gotten their first taste of it this week with snow one day and icy roads the next.
Transportation officials said about 100 crashes had been reported statewide by 6 a.m. Tuesday as temperatures below freezing iced up bridges and elevated roads.
In the Twin Cities, the Minnesota State Patrol said 66 crashes were reported to state troopers between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Nine of the crashes involved injuries.
Besides bridges, slick conditions were also a problem for some drivers on freeway entrance and exit ramps.
"People weren't driving for the conditions," MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard said.
MnDOT crews were out at 3 a.m. to apply salt to bridges and other problem areas. Officials instructed drivers to slow down, leave extra room between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead of them, and avoid sharp braking or steering on elevated roadways.
"Being in Minnesota you have to be prepared for pretty much any driving condition, and today's no different," said Don Zenanako, who works at the traffic management center in Roseville.
A day earlier, light snow fell until early afternoon in the Twin Cities. Temperatures were high enough to prevent snow from accumulating on most roads, but spinouts and crashes were reported during the morning commute.
Barnard said Tuesday was a problem because many drivers thought the snow was gone.
"Yesterday I think people took it more seriously because there was snow coming down, and I think people thought it was going to be slippery," Barnard said. "Today with the ice, it kind of catches you unaware."
Snow and icy roads don't happen this early every year, but the first winter weather always seems to catch drivers off-guard regardless if it's mid-October, Barnard said.
"Every year we have to learn to drive with this stuff again," he said.
Elizabeth Dunbar is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.