Traffic is flowing again on one of Iowa’s main north-south corridors. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 35 was closed Thursday during the height of the blizzard following a 25-vehicle pile-up that claimed two lives and injured at least seven people.
Bob Younie, a DOT maintenance engineer, says the roadway was re-opened this morning as conditions have improved drastically. “We had to close I-35 yesterday as we had a major collision and terrible driving conditions and it wasn’t safe,” Younie says.
“In the interest of public safety, it was closed from Albert Lea in Minnesota to U.S. 30 in Ames in the southbound direction, and in the northbound direction, it was closed from U.S. 30 in Ames to U.S. 18 at Clear Lake.”
While I-35 was reopened this morning, traffic was backed up for miles last (Thursday) night on the state’s main east-west artery, Interstate 80. Numerous cars were in the ditch and several semi-trucks had jack-knifed between Brooklyn and Grinnell. Hundreds of cars were brought to a stand-still for hours.
“There were several semi accidents that closed I-80,” Younie says. “When a semi gets across both lanes, it’s difficult to get them out. You have to have the right kind of wreckers, the state patrol has to help and it’s just kind of a mess.”
While the blizzard has passed, it’ll be some time yet before the roads are back in tip-top shape statewide. Younie says many of Iowa’s thoroughfares remain very dangerous and travel continues to be discouraged.
“We still have winter weather,” Younie says. “The roads have snow and ice on them, but the way the day’s looking right now, with the snow gone and the wind down, the DOT’s been on continually 24 hours a day, we’ll really put a dent in today and get a lot of clean-up done.” Forecasters say another storm system could be in the near-future, with the possibility for snow on Monday night or Tuesday.