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Published December 01, 2011, 10:23 PM

Stretch of I-94 notorious for producing accidents

Barnesville, MN (WDAY TV) - It's been called the Bermuda Triangle of I-94. The 23 mile stretch of road from Downer to Barnesville to Rothsay tends to make for some of the most tense, white knuckled driving in the area during winter. But why?

It's been called the Bermuda Triangle of I-94. The 23 mile stretch of road from Downer to Barnesville to Rothsay tends to make for some of the most tense, white knuckled driving in the area during winter. But why?

Four crashes, three jack-knifed semis, all in less than 30 minutes, on one very short stretch of interstate. Wednesday's freezing rain storm caused havoc for hundreds of drivers between Downer and Barnesville.

Sheriff Bill Bergquist – Clay County: “In that particular area where those big curves are that's always been an issue for us, people all of a sudden hit it and don't realize it's that icy.”

But, in this case, the facts say something different. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the stretch of I-94 from Downer to Barnesville is statistically average - about 11 single car and 3 multi car accidents a year.

Tom Swenson - MnDOT Traffic Enginner: "I'm guessing the number is higher, some of those, especially this time of year, people go off the road, if they don't roll over, a lot of the stuff that goes off they drive away, don't get reported.

Officers say one of the most important things to do when conditions are icy on the interstate is to turn off that cruise control. And, in situations like this, statistics don't always matter.

Sergeant Jesse Grabow – MN State Patrol: “That stretch from I-94 from Downer to Rothsay can be referred to as a geographical phenomenon and sometimes statistics don't reflect the accuracy of what we're seeing out there.”

MnDOT Engineers say the road meets standards, 24 feet wide, 10 foot shoulders. But statistics and regulations don't tell the whole story.

Jesse Grabow: “From personal experience, the number of vehicles sliding off the road, not receiving damage, it's usually within the hundreds. Some weekends we'll have hundreds of vehicles in the ditch, in the medians between Rothsay and Moorhead and it keeps the troopers very busy.”

It wasn't the first time, and it certainly won't be the last. Drive smart, because winter is only just beginning.

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