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Published November 30, 2011, 10:13 AM

I-94 reopens after cleanup of crashes that prompted closure in Clay County

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – An icy stretch of Interstate 94 in Clay County that was shut down this morning after several semitrailers crashed has reopened, the Minnesota State Patrol said.

By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – An icy stretch of Interstate 94 in Clay County that was shut down this morning after several semitrailers crashed has reopened, the Minnesota State Patrol said.

“Just a real narrow band of freezing rain came through the area, and it froze fast,” patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said.

Troopers responded to four crashes and three jackknifed semis on I-94 between the Downer and Barnesville exits, forcing the patrol to shut down those exits and divert traffic while rescue services responded, Grabow said.

An estimated 100 vehicles were stranded by jackknifed semis blocking the entire road, he said.

No injuries were reported, and I-94 reopened in both directions at 10 a.m.

In North Dakota, more than 20 crashes were reported in and around the Fargo and West Fargo areas, including 15 crashes on a stretch of I-29 extending about eight miles south of Fargo’s 32nd Avenue South, state Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind said. A West Fargo police squad car that got rear-ended was among those involved in the morning crashes, he said.

Only minor injuries had been reported so far, Niewind said, noting it was still raining south of Fargo at about 9:30 a.m.

Many more people slid off the road, but oftentimes they were able to drive out of the snow-free ditches, he said.

Drivers approaching the metro area on dry roads were hitting the hard-to-see icy patches at speeds too fast for conditions, Niewind said, advising drivers to “just slow down.”

“You can never predict this time of year, with the temperatures and different weather we have, whether the road’s going to be icy,” he said.

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