MANKATO — With road crews at the ready, Mankato street workers were able to keep main thoroughfares decent Sunday. Travel outside the city was another story.
Highway 68 was closed for a few hours Sunday afternoon as road crews attempted to deal with a slippery hill just west of Judson. Before the work was done a highway sanding truck was tipped over in the ditch.
Employees at All American Towing & Repair said a vast majority of their 27 calls by about 3 p.m. were on roads outside of Mankato. Four of those calls came at about the same time from that one stretch of road on Highway 68. And more vehicles were taken away by another towing company called to the scene, said Mark Devlaeminck, All American shift supervisor.
Vehicles going up the steep hill were losing traction and sliding back into a guard rail. When the truck was sent out to pour sand on the ice, it ended up tipping into the ditch, Devlaeminck said.
Slippery conditions on area highways and county roads were also catching drivers by surprise.
“I've had five people on duty working steady all day and I had to call in an extra dispatcher,” he said. “One of the biggest factors we deal with is that traffic doesn’t slow down.”
Drivers in areas across southern Minnesota, including the Mankato region, were being asked to stay off the roads unless travel was absolutely necessary. The Minnesota Department of Transportation warned drivers that they could be caught off guard by icy sections of roads to the south of Belle Plaine and Northfield.
Two drivers were injured Sunday in one-vehicle crashes on Highway 111 in Nicollet County and Highway 22 in Blue Earth County, the State Patrol reported. Jodi Brandmire, 32, of Shakopee, was on Highway 111 when her 2000 Chevy Blazer left the road at about 11:30 A.M. and rolled several times. At about 2:20 p.m.. 52-year-old Steven Robbins of Mapleton was traveling south on Highway 22 when his 2003 Ford F-150 left the road and rolled. Both drivers were taken to hospitals to be treated for non-life threatening injuries, the reports said.