Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

MnDOT Policies

Closure State Highway, Severe Winter Storms, Natural Disaster

MnDOT Policy OP6.83.2
View/print signed policy (PDF)
View/print signed guideline (PDF)

Policy statement

Every effort within the limits of available resources should be made to keep the highways open to traffic at all times.

Safety for the motorists and MnDOT employees are primary considerations of MnDOT.

Should weather deteriorate to a condition that requires closing the highway to all vehicular travel or should a natural disaster occur which makes the roadway impassable this policy sets forth the general method to follow.

Reason for policy

Currently, each Maintenance Area has its own policy on closing roads during severe winter storms or natural disasters. The policy and procedures were approved by the Maintenance Standards Advisory Committee with the assistance of the State Patrol, Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Definitions

Road Closed

A road declared closed by word only through the news media or other informational sources. Because of the numerous access points to the roadway, it is deemed impractical to barricade all access to it.

Road Barricaded

A road declared closed and barricaded to physically prevent travel. This would generally occur on freeways because of the minimal number of access points or on short sections of roadway where the local access to the highway can be reasonably controlled.

Procedures

Communication is the key factor when a road becomes closed or it is decided to close the road. Information must flow between the departments involved with highway operations; public safety, road users, etc. Included are Highway Patrol Offices, MnDOT Area Maintenance Offices, MnDOT District Offices, Central Office – MnDOT and State Patrol, road user agencies and news media. At times, it may involve adjacent states, municipalities, counties and agencies such as the State Division of Emergency Services and MnDOT Office of Communications.

The following responsibilities are assigned to implement the above policy.

  • The following are the responsibilities of MnDOT Area Maintenance Engineers:
    • Notify and discuss the closure or barricading with District Engineer.
    • Notify and discuss the closure or barricading with District State Patrol Commander.
    • Notify adjacent MnDOT Maintenance Areas, counties, and municipalities through which the route passes.
    • Notify MnDOT Central Office Maintenance Emergency Operations Section.
    • Insure that local news media have been contacted.
  • The following are the responsibilities of the District State Patrol Commander:
    • Notify the MnDOT Area Maintenance Engineer of conditions that would require the closure of a highway.
    • Resolve requests from patrol officers to a close highway with the MnDOT Area Maintenance Engineer or MnDOT District Engineer.
    • Notify their field forces and central office.
    • Notify adjacent Patrol Districts.
    • Assist in notifying motorists.
  • The following are the responsibilities of MnDOT Central Office of Maintenance Emergency Operations Manager:
    • Notify the Department of Transportation of any adjacent State that will be directly affected.
    • Notify any other State agencies or offices that need the information.
    • Coordinate with the State Patrol and the Office of Public Information on getting the information to motorists and the public. Incorporate the information in State Road Condition Reports.
  • The State Patrol Central Office shall:
    • Contact the MnDOT Central Office of Maintenance if it is necessary to resolve District level disagreements on decisions-to-close.
    • Notify and coordinate with the Police Agencies of any adjacent affected States.
    • Notify affected State Patrol Districts not having the information.
    • Assist in getting the information to motorists and the public.

For Interstate routes and other major through routes, the re-opening of a route without warning may have as much impact on the adjacent State or District as the closure itself. It could permit a large number of vehicles to enter an area not yet prepared to accept them. Communications and actions by District and Central Offices of MnDOT and the State Patrol when considering a decision to re-open an Interstate or other major route should be handled in a manner similar to that used when considering a decision to close a route.

Responsibilities

MnDOT Area Maintenance Engineer

  • It is the responsibility of MnDOT Area Maintenance Engineer with the concurrence of the District Engineer to determine when a road should be closed or barricaded.
  • If there is immediate danger of the road becoming impassable or if visibility is so limited that safe travel is impossible, the Area Maintenance Engineer should declare the road “closed”.
  • If conditions are such that the Area Maintenance Engineer deems it advisable and advantageous to physically prohibit travel, he shall effect closing of the road by placing appropriate barricades and/or traffic control devices and shall declare the road “barricaded”. Prior to barricading a road, the Area Maintenance Engineer and State Patrol Commander will confer and agree on the necessity of this action. When the Area Maintenance Engineer and Commander agree that the motorist will need verbal instructions at the barricade, they will attempt to arrange for qualified personnel to provide these instructions.

State Patrol

The State Patrol has the authority to halt traffic and implement temporary road closures in matters relating to public safety; for example, to allow for emergency services following a major accident or series of accidents.

History

Effective

September 7th, 1983

Ownership

Please go to the MnDOT Org Chart to find specific contact information: Org Chart.

Responsible Senior Officer

Deputy Commissioner/Chief Engineer

Policy Owners

Assistant Commissioner
Operations Division

Policy Contacts

Assistant Division Director
Operations Division