Handful of roads closed because of ice, water

Published 12:24 pm Thursday, March 14, 2019

Freeborn County is advising limited travel on gravel roads until further notice.

Freeborn County Emergency Management Director Rich Hall said the roads are still available for people who live in the area.

Hall said some of the roads have glare ice. Others reportedly have mud bogs or standing water.

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“We have closed roads where impassable due to water across roads,” said Freeborn County Public Works Director Sue Miller. 

Freeborn County Road 61 north of Minnesota Highway 109; an area of the road south of Freeborn County Road 17 to County Road 11; and Freeborn County Road 61, from 200th Street to 190th Street south of Interstate 90 were closed as of press time due to flooding.

The Minnesota National Guard will assist the Sheriff’s Office in emergency rescue operations.

“Buses are not recommended to go on the gravels if at all possible,” Miller said. “We have been and will continue coordinating with the bus companies over the next few days.”

She noted frost is still deep under gravel roads, and up to a foot thaws and the moisture is trapped on the surface.

“It is particularly challenging when we still have so much snow and ice along the edges with tile and culverts frozen and now just starting to thaw and function slowly,” Miller said.

Hall said the Freeborn County Highway Department staff have never seen similar conditions on gravel roads.

“They’re pretty much impassable,” he said.

Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Todd Earl said buses have become stuck on county roads.

Hall said the Highway Department has tried its best to alleviate poor gravel road conditions.

“There’s really not a whole lot we’re going to be able to do,” he said.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is cautioning motorists to not drive around barricades or into flooded areas.

“Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling,” MnDOT stated in a press release. “A foot of water will float many vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles and pickups.”

MnDOT noted it is illegal to drive on a closed road and motorists can be fined up to $1,000 and/or sentenced to 90 days in jail. Other expenses and penalties are expected to apply when travelers are rescued from a closed road.

More flooding information from MnDOT is available at www.dot.state.mn.us/flood/. MnDOT is expected to announce the reopening of highways via Twitter at www.twitter.com/mndotsoutheast.

Look to the Tribune for more information as it is released.


About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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