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So much snow... no where to put it

By Angie Rodenburg

Fri, Mar 7th, 2014
Posted in All The Great Outdoors

Snow plow drivers are working hard to improve visibility at intersections and push snow into already full ditches. Photo by Angie Rodenburg

By Angie Rodenburg

Driving on Highway 43 into Rushford the other day, I couldn’t help but notice the snow drifts that towered several feet above my car. In that moment I couldn’t help but be thankful that despite the massive amount of snow we’ve accumulated this winter, I was still able to drive safely on a clear road. It reminded me of all the hard working snow plow drivers have done and continue to do for us this winter. Dealing with the snow in my driveway can be frustrating enough. I’m glad I can rest assured that the roads will be taken care of.

Mike Dougherty, our district’s MnDOT public affairs coordinator, says, “They [snow plow driver’s] take great pride in their work.” Snow plow drivers work around the clock, with each driver taking a 12 hour shift at a time. Many breaks are allotted for such long shifts, ensuring that the drivers do not get over-tired.

Snow plow drivers are having an especially difficult time this winter trying to push new snow into already full ditches. Due to the intense cold there has been very little snow melting. MnDOT has had to pull out the big machines in order to push back the huge snow piles; using front end loaders, snow blowers, and road graders. “It had been one of the toughest winters that Minnesota has seen,” said Dougherty.

While pushing back piles is important to snow plow drivers, the top priority is to make sure the highways are clean. Safety is MnDOT’s main focus, according to Dougherty. Snow plow drivers are doing what they can to improve visibility at intersections, though it has proved to be a difficult task with this amount of snow. MnDOT asks that motorists take extra caution and notify them via phone or email if they encounter a problem area.

MnDOT advises motorists drive a little slower and plan the trip to take a little longer. Also, for the safety of snow plow drivers and motorists alike, give snow plow drivers plenty of space. “Don’t crowd the plow,” reminded Ron Gregg of the Fillmore County Highway Department. It is recommended that there be five car lengths between cars and plows. Being patient and alert will ensure everyone gets where they are going safely. In January alone there have been seven plow/vehicle accidents in Minnesota. Thankfully there were no serious injuries.

Ron Gregg, Fillmore County Highway Department County Engineer, asks that motorists give the plow drivers a little time as they are doing their best to push the snow back. The Fillmore County Highway Department is utilizing all 17 plows and blower to take on the snow in Fillmore County.

A visit to the MnDOT website, www.511mn.org before traveling is a great way to ensure a safe trip. Snow plow drivers and motorists are always calling in the statuses of Minnesota roads to be updated on the website. If you’re out driving and you encounter a snow plow give the driver a thumbs up in appreciation for all they do.

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