The state of Missouri will likely spend more than $8 million removing snow from highways that fell during this week's major winter storms.

As of Thursday, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) crews have spread more than 20,000 tons of salt and other materials on roads, and have put in more than 40,000 hours of overtime.

  • The National Weather Service extended the blizzard warning this morning to include at least parts of the St. Louis metro area. The blizzard warning now includes St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Madison County and St. Charles County. The blizzard warning is in effect until noon Wednesday. Forecasters say wind gusts could reach 30 to 40 mph Tuesday afternoon.
  • The winter storm system that blanketed the region with snow overnight caused problems on area roads this morning. A few inches of snow were on the ground in St. Louis and suburbs, but that was enough to cause a large number of traffic accidents, mostly fender –benders. Most schools in the regions are closed. The Missouri Department of Transportation is warning motorists to exercise caution on overpasses and ramps. Drifting snow will continue to cause low visibility.

  • Attorney for George Ryan says they'll ask President Barack Obama to grant clemency to the imprisoned former Illinois governor after an appeals court refused to release Ryan on bail to spend more time with his terminally ill wife. Ryan's attorney, former Gov. James Thompson, told The Associated Press Monday that the request would be submitted to the White House within days. It will ask Obama to commute Ryan's sentence to his three years already served.

  • A St. Louis police officer is recovering after being dragged by a suspect's car during a traffic stop. Authorities say the officer pulled over the suspect because he believed he saw drugs in the car. They say the suspect rolled up his window, trapping the officer's arm in his car and dragging him a short distance. The officer's injuries were not serious. The suspect was arrested after crashing following a police chase.

(Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio)

Crews working on the new Mississippi River Bridge have gotten the $640 million project back on track.

Flooding meant that for the months of May, June, and July, it wasn't safe for crews to be working below the water line, says project manager Greg Horn. That wiped out 81 construction days.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is asking Missourians to take an online survey about the state rail plan. Through the survey, MoDOT is seeking information about rail services, challenges, opportunities, costs and benefits from the public's point of view.

"It's always a challenge to pay for all the transportation services and improvements Missourians tell us they want, so how the state invests our rail transportation dollars says a lot about our priorities and has a major impact on the state's economy. " - MoDot Director Kevin Keith.

/Via Flickr/ KOMU news, Manu Bhandari

Some major road projects will keep the Missouri Department of Transportation and its contractors busy next year. But that all changes in 2012.

In 2011, crews will complete a new ramp connecting Interstate 270 and Page Avenue, says Bill Schnell, MoDOT's assistant district engineer in the St. Louis area. They'll also finish MoDOT's portion of the Route 141 extension in West County.

(Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Department of Transportation is urging driver to take it slow and be careful if they must travel this Christmas night.

  • The snow has started to fall in parts of the St. Louis metropolitan area. The Missouri Department of Transportation is monitoring, re-treating and plowing area roadways. MODOT is urging area motorists to stay off the roads during the winter storm. If you have to travel, MODOT advises drivers to give salt trucks and plows plenty of room.
(Flickr Creative Commons User conner395)
  • If you thought your neighborhood was like a skating rink this morning, you certainly were not alone. Freezing rain coated the St. Louis area with a nasty glaze of ice, causing trouble on the roads. It was worse in rural areas and the Missouri Department of Transportation continues to treat streets with salt, and, believe it or not, beet juice.
  • Sheriff's deputies in St. Clair county got some bad news on Tuesday - 13 of the 46 deputies will be losing their jobs effective Jan. 15. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that this comes after the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police union rejected a proposal by the county to increase their wages by 1 percent, a margin deemed too small by the union compared to similar-sized departments in Illinois, including Madison County the paper reports. Also in St. Clair county,  the East St. Louis city council is scheduled to vote on Friday on a proposal to layoff 26 city employees, including 19 police officers effective Jan. 1.  Laying off 19 police officers means that the police department will be left with 43 police officers -- the department had more than 70 officers just a few years ago. With a reduced force it will be tougher to police an area that, so far, has seen 25 homicides this year.
  • The U.S. Senate is debating President Obama's top foreign policy priority, a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty. Democrats prevailed in a test vote Wednesday after Republicans threatened to delay work on the pact, known as the START treaty. Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill emphasized that the treaty with Russia is vital for the success of American troops fighting in Afghanistan:

"It is a very important treaty for our troops in Afghanistan because the supply lines for our troops in Afghanistan go through Russia and our relationship with Russia is very, very important, especially as you look at our plans on missile defense." - Claire McCaskill

The Missouri Department of Transportation is asking drivers to stay off the roads unless they have to drive, at least for now.

Freezing rain overnight turned area highways into skating rinks for early morning commutes. At one point on Wednesday night, sections of Interstates 70, 44 and 55 were closed in the St. Louis area because of accidents.

150 MoDOT trucks salted the roads overnight, says the agency's Kara Price.