By Mary McGuire

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — From snow day after snow day, to snow emergencies and gigantic snow piles, we’ve pretty much seen it all this month.

Yogi Berra once said, “It’s ain’t over til it’s over,” and the same goes for this flake-filled February.

In the midst of a snowy month that’s about to get snowier, Kent Barnard of the Minnesota Department of Transportation says he is more concerned about slick streets and slow commutes than the agency’s salt supply.

MnDOT has 286,000 tons of salt under contract right now. They’ve used less than 100,000 tons so far this year.

“We have a contract where we can order more salt and have more salt if we need to,” Barnard said. “At this point, we aren’t anticipating it.”

(credit: CBS)

Salt can melt away ice and clear up roads, but it can’t magically make those big piles disappear. The amount that’s fallen in a relatively short time period presents its own unique test.

“One of the challenges that we do face when we have a very snowy month … is just the sheer volume of snow and being able to clear the roadway and having place to store that snow,” Barnard said.

In between snow storms, crews have been out batting clean-up, clearing bridge decks and shoulders. That work gets put on the back burner if there’s not a lot of breaks.

The 12 hours on, 12 hours off schedule can get tiring for plow drivers, too, but this is Minnesota — and dealing with this stuff is what we do best.

“The men and women that work for MnDOT live for the snow,” Barnard said.

Salt piles in the MnDOT barns gets replenished several times throughout the season. They do allow counties and cities in the metro use their salt supplies if they need it.

Mary McGuire


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