Mn/DOT learns from past storms, makes adjustments

8:13 PM, Dec 10, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) Clear Roads Manager Mark Fischbach says he was happy with the agency's response to Sunday's big snowstorm.

Fischbach says the response to the storm shows how MnDot has adjusted its techniques through the years.

"By rush hour (on Monday), we were down to just compaction on half of our freeway system and the other half was down to bare lane," said Fischbach.

Compaction is the coating of ice and snow on area roadways when cars and trucks compress the falling snow before it can be removed.

The St. Paul native explained that Mn/DOT learns from past storms.

"If you remember the Halloween storm several years ago (1991), it took weeks to remove that compaction. Now, we can do it in a matter of hours," said Fischbach.

Fischbach credits the application of brine solution to the roads before the storm hits, as was done Thursday. The brine makes it much easier for plows to "pop" the compaction off of the roads.

The storm that deflated the Metrodome roof in 2010 also resulted in a change on highway snow removal and de-icing.

"We are using more liquids to help jump start our sodium chloride in the de-icing process," said Fischbach. "By adding liquids to the rock salt solids, we can activate it into brine quicker and that will actually start the melting process quicker."

Fischbach explained that rock salt must be melted into brine before it can have any effect on the roads.

More than 200 Mn/DOT Metro salt trucks have an apparatus that drops liquid through a tube onto the spinning road salt applicator on the back of the truck, moistening the salt.

Mn/DOT expected to work through Monday night and into Tuesday to clear compaction from ramps and freeway entrances and exits, to finally put the first big storm of the this winter behind us.

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