- Kevin Gutknecht
Office of Communications
395 John Ireland Blvd
Mail Stop 150
St. Paul, MN 55155-1899
Unusual winter offers new opportunities for MnDOT
Department takes advantage of less snowfall to catch up on maintenance activities delayed due to last year’s record winter, state government shutdown
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Warm winter temperatures mixed with below average snowfall led to an unusual, yet opportunistic 2011-2012 snow and ice season for the state of Minnesota and its Department of Transportation.
This year, MnDOT was able to work on maintenance tasks typically not addressed during winter months, a stark contrast from last year when several tasks were put on hold due to the severity of the 2010-2011 winter season. The department got caught up on maintenance work deferred due to last summer’s state government shutdown and jump-started several additional maintenance projects, including:
- Early pothole patching
- Crack sealing to reduce the effects of moisture damage and keep roads smoother
- Repairs to cable median barriers, guardrails and fences
- Culvert inspections, repairs and replacements
- Brush-cutting and tree-trimming
The warmer-than-usual winter also required fewer state resources for snow and ice removal.
MnDOT spent $45.9 million on winter maintenance and snow and ice activities during the 2011-2012 winter season – compared to $66.1 million on average the last four years. By comparison, MnDOT spent $81.1 million on snow and ice removal during the 2010-2011 season.
Although the state saw significantly less snow this season, MnDOT crews still needed to be very active throughout the state, some of it due to the unusual freezing rain Minnesota experienced. On average, MnDOT districts deployed snowplows 28 times this winter for snow and freezing rain events compared to 31 times on average the previous four years.
“This winter season was different than we normally see, especially compared to last year’s record winter, but it still presented challenges particularly in the area of treating freezing rain, which sometimes was followed by plowing snow,” said MnDOT State Maintenance Engineer Steve Lund. “Each year, our snowfighters do what it takes to keep Minnesota’s roads safe.”
Lund and his maintenance staff around the state are already planning for the 2012-2013 winter season.
“With this past winter only being the first of a two year funding cycle, we will be cautious to ensure we are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at us next year,” Lund said.
MnDOT districts have already started to refill their salt sheds at the 2011-2012 salt prices, which should save the department money next fall when prices are expected to rise.
In addition to getting a great jump on maintenance activities, MnDOT is using some of the money that was anticipated for snow and ice removal to purchase much needed equipment, enabling the department to retire equipment well beyond its life cycle.
Some MnDOT plows have been in operation more than 20 years, eight years longer than the recommended life cycle.
Some of these planned purchases include:
- New snowplows to replace plows well beyond their life cycle
- Air patch trucks to perform permanent patch repairs, even in winter months
- Work zone traffic control signs
- Heated material boxes for asphalt patching
- New tools for pothole patching and crack repairs
For updated statewide road conditions and construction information, call 5-1-1 or visit www.511mn.org.