Freezing rain glazed metro area roads and sidewalks Tuesday morning, making for a slippery return to work and school following the holidays.
Early morning commuters encountered icy conditions on freeways, and that led to a number of spinout and several minor crashes, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported.
A semi slipped off the ramp at I-694 and Silver Lake Road and then was clipped by a car just after 6 a.m. By 8:30 a.m., mainline roads were improving but MnDOT and the patrol was responding to a pair of spinouts on westbound I-94 in Woodbury and northbound I-35E at St. Clair Avenue in St. Paul.
Eastbound 394 was particularly treacherous in the vicinity of 12th Street in downtown Minneapolis. A spin out in the left lane had traffic backed up to near Dunwoody Boulevard. At 8:45 a.m. MnDOT was shutting down the freeway and diverting traffic off onto 12th Street due to glare ice conditions. The freeway has since reopened, but traffic was crawling from Hwy. 100 into downtown.
MnDOT has plows out. Hennepin County said 66 trucks went out at 2 a.m. to clear snow and ice from the roads and to lay salt. "Drive safely and please give our crews room to work," the county pleaded in a tweet.
The scene was much different Monday night. The State Patrol said it responded to more than 100 crashes in the metro between 7 and 10 p.m. Monday night. At one point, no travel was advised between Rogers and Clearwater. Those numbers rose to 197 crashes by 11 a.m Tuesday. They led to 26 injuries. In addition, 66 cars spun out or slid of the road, the patrol said.
On Tuesday, travel was difficult north and west of the metro. No travel was advised in northwestern Minnesota and roads were snow and ice covered north and west of St. Cloud, MnDOT's travel information website showed.