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Published March 15, 2013, 09:44 AM

I-94 now open from Fergus Falls to Alexandria; travel alert issued for southeastern ND

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – Authorities have reopened all lanes of Interstate 94 from Fergus Falls to Alexandria after jackknifed semis and rollover accidents forced authorities to close the icy stretch this morning.

By: Forum News Service, INFORUM, Forum News Service

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – Authorities have reopened all lanes of Interstate 94 from Fergus Falls to Alexandria after jackknifed semis and rollover accidents forced authorities to close the icy stretch this morning.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota State Patrol closed the approximately 50-mile stretch early Friday.

The eastbound lane had reopened by 8:35 a.m., and the westbound lanes reopened by 9:04 a.m., according to patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow.

Grabow said at least two jackknifed semis had to be pulled out, and there were a couple of rollover accidents that involved injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

Freezing rain fell on parts of west-central Minnesota, creating difficult driving conditions.

“It’s like a skating rink with a light dusting of snow on top,” Grabow said.

Snowplows were spreading sand, but drivers will still need to use caution when I-94 reopens, Grabow said, noting a snowplow was reportedly struck by a vehicle but there were no reported injuries.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation issued a travel alert at 7:40 a.m. for southeastern North Dakota – including Fargo, Ellendale, Jamestown, Valley City and Wahpeton – because of snow and freezing rain causing hazardous driving conditions. Motorists can still travel in those areas, but should reduce speeds and drive according to conditions, the DOT said.

Bruce Nord, maintenance superintendent for the DOT’s southeast region, said the Lisbon, Forman, Lidgerwood and Wyndmere areas all received freezing rain overnight, and it was still raining near Fairmount shortly before 8 a.m.

Road conditions were icy from the Walcott area to the South Dakota border, Nord said. Traffic speeds were reduced, and power lines were hanging low because of ice, he said.

“The guys are having to take it slow and easy trying to get this stuff off,” he said of plow drivers.

The National Weather Service posted advisories in the northern and eastern parts of North Dakota on Friday, with forecasters calling for freezing rain and up to 5 inches of snow. There’s also a chance of snow in the west on Saturday, and it's expected to spread across the state on Sunday.

Forecasters say blowing snow could cause travel problems into Monday.

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