MnDOT: Drivers should slow down, especially in snowy construction zones

- There were upwards of 300 crashes around the state Wednesday with snow causing a lot of problems on the roads, with the I-35W construction zones being no exception.  

The 30 mile per hour curve on 35W is known to get really backed up and snow makes that even worse.

MnDOT wants to warn drivers it’s still a work zone, so pack your patience when it snows because they're clearing as best they can.  

“It was very rough on the way home,” said Drew Semlak. “It takes me an hour to get home normally, it took me two hours last night.”

Semlak usually takes 35W to work from Jordan. He knows, other commuters know and MnDOT knows that stretches of that highway present more problems than others.

“Getting around the curve right before it turns east and west is just terrible,” Matt Mullin said. “It causes giant backups. Yesterday I didn’t even try. I knew the snow would make it absolutely impassable.”

While not impassable, it was certainly slow-moving Wednesday.

“It was a challenge for motorists yesterday just in general because it was the first snow storm of the year,” said Kevin Gutknecht, of MnDOT. “And people are getting used to driving on snow and ice again.”

Driving on snow and ice and through construction zones takes its toll on drivers.

“For us to get out there and treat that, we’ve got to get out there into the traffic stream. So there was probably a salt truck behind you.  And eventually we got to it, but we can only move as fast as the traffic allows us to move,” Gutknecht said.

Plows hit the road as the snow piles up, clearing even the narrowest portions of the highway. It’s something Gutknecht says they’ve been preparing for, but timing truly is everything.

“The timing of the storm was such that the snow came in and there was too much traffic on the roadway,” Gutknecht said.

So, if you’re like Semlak or any of the other thousands that commute via 35W, remember, when there’s ice and snow, take it slow.

“It’s a construction area. You’re always going to get some accidents and things like that in the winter,” Semlak said.

As narrow as that chunk is, Gutknecht says they'll clear and clear until the road is snow free.

Gutknecht has no anticipation of having to reduce it to one lane, but it is going to present its challenges this winter.

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