Traffic is free flowing this morning at the intersection of Hwy. 169 and 5th St. S. in Hopkins, but that was not the case last night. A chain-reaction accident just after 10 p.m. involving more than 60 vehicles brought traffic to a halt on the southbound lanes of the highway and injured several people, including two pedestrians who were seriously injured.
"We don't definitively know that weather was the cause, but it's possible that roads iced up and contributed to it," said Lt. Mark Peterson of the State Patrol.
The patrol also is trying to figure out if two pedestrians hurt in the crash were walking in the area or were motorists who were hit when they stepped out of their vehicles to inspect damage.
The pedestrians, a 37-year-old woman who suffered a hip fracture and other injuries, and a 47-year-old man who suffered a cervical fracture and other unknown injuries, were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Their names have not been released.
Several other people were taken to North Memorial and Fairview Southdale hospitals with minor injuries, the State Patrol said.
This morning, mainline highways are in good shape with a only few scattered slippery spots, but entrance and exit ramps and city and county roads are slick, said Tom Heininger of the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Regional Traffic Center in Roseville.
"Nothing out there today that should hamper traffic" this morning, said Heininger, who was out salting highways earlier this morning. "When the sun gets out and we get to 45 degrees we won't have to worry about it."
No major traffic problems were reported at 8 a.m. today, but slowdowns were reported on southbound Interstate 35E from I-694 to downtown St. Paul and on southbound I-35W from 95th Av. to Hwy. 10, eastbound I-394 from Hwy. 169 to Hwy. 100, northbound I-35W from I- 35 to the Minnesota River, and on Cedar Avenue from Apple Valley to the Minnesota River, according to MnDOT's website.
Motorists on side streets and secondary roads have encountered icy conditions. Several minor accidents were reported on Shepard Road near Warner Road in St. Paul. Slick conditions also were reported on Hiawatha Av. from Lake St. to 38th St. in south Minneapolis.
The State Patrol is still sorting out exactly what led to the multi-car crash. Peterson said it is not clear how the accident started, but that multi-car accidents on busy highways are not uncommon.
In another crash Wednesday night, a 33-year-old Minnetonka woman was injured in a one-vehicle accident about 8:45 p.m. on Interstate Hwy. 394 east of Louisiana Avenue in Golden Valley. The woman, who was driving a 2004 Ford Taurus, apparently drove over a sign and hit a light pole. The vehicle then rolled over and caught on fire.
She was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center with unspecified injuries, the State Patrol said.
The crashes on Hwys. 169 and Interstate Hwy. 394 were among 218 incidents that the State Patrol responded to between 6 a.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. today. None of the accidents was fatal, the patrol said.
Tim Harlow email@example.com