Stranded up to 20 hours, I-94 motorists eager to roll

8:21 AM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - Twenty hours after the gates were closed, Interstate 94 is open again at Alexandria.

Workers from the Minnesota Department of Transportation swung back the metal barriers reopening the freeway at 1 p.m. Monday, followed by a steady stream of motorists eager to resume their trips.

"We should actually have been there yesterday," said Kevin Morrison who left Ohio on Saturday with his wife on a trip to visit the couple's daughter in Minot, North Dakota.

Sunday morning they pulled off the road in Avon because they couldn't see the road. Monday morning they resumed their trip only to find themselves stopped again in Alexandria.

Hundreds of cars, buses and semis filled every available piece of plowed pavement at a Fleet Farm and Wal-Mart near the freeway. Others pulled into gas stations and restaurants to wait for the freeway to open.

Among those waiting was a bus load of young gymnasts from Fargo, ages 10 to 15, returning from a meet in Chicago.

"We're supposed to be having a really fun snow day, but instead we're stuck on this bus," said one of the gymnasts.

Bill Shalow found himself as the only dad on the bus. The flights Shalow and his wife had planned to take home from Chicago were cancelled because of the weather. They boarded the team bus instead, only to be stranded in Minnesota.

"I've had enough winter," Shalow said.

The Minnesota State Patrol said the reopening of I-94 was delayed by the difficulty clearing the freeway of large trucks that had drifted in. In one case, big snow blowers were brought in to free a truckload of apples that rolled on its side near Barnesville.

Some truck drivers blew their air horns when they finally rounded the bend to enter the freeway.

"You don't know how many people are going to be happy right now," said the highway worker who pulled back the gate.

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