Mn/DOT offers explanation after commute complaints continue

9:13 AM, Dec 12, 2012   |    comments
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ROSEVILLE, Minn. -- The comments on the KARE 11 Facebook page came in by the dozens. Hundreds every five minutes. A post about morning commute times had almost 13,000 views before 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Many were reporting their commute times more than tripled.

Lee Ann O. wrote "1 and ½ hours Stillwater to Roseville. What is the problem? Mn/DOT needs to get its act together." Jimmy B. opined "this is the worst job they have ever done on the roads."

The Minnesota Department of Transportation, or Mn/DOT, has likely heard from hundreds of drivers as well. We took the most common comments and complaints to Kent Barnard, a Mn/DOT communications specialist who also operates a plow and salt and sander for the agency. For starters, he explained this was a whopper of a relentless snowstorm that dumped a wet and heavy mix.

Carrie B. wrote to us saying "I understand Mn/DOT is working hard but what happened to treating the roads before the storm?"

"We started pre-treating on Thursday afternoon, Thursday evening and then we continued into Friday," Barnard explained Tuesday. Mother Nature was not cooperating; the dramatic drop in temperatures on Sunday night rendered the pre-treated materials ineffective. "The salt needs water to work. It's a chemical reaction and what it does is it starts breaking that bond with the pavement and as we start getting down around 15 degrees, it really rapidly drops off in effectiveness."

So the vehicles compacted the snow and some of the slick spots were tough to remove. That caused back-ups on Monday and Tuesday all over the metro.

"We're putting down some salt brine and some rock salt and hopefully Mother Nature is going to cooperate with us. We're going to see some temperatures going up," Barnard said.

That salt that has now been dumped during this first blast will help in future storms so there is a little light at the end of the snow tunnel. Lindsey K. wrote in to us with this: "You all live in Minnesota. Leave early, drive slow and quit complaining. Mn/DOT is not as powerful as Mother Nature."

"It's a little disheartening sometimes for the people that are working for Mn/DOT being criticized when you know that you've been out there, you've been working 12-hour shifts," Barnard concluded.

Mn/DOT continues to run full crews out in full force. Operators are working 12 hours on-12 hours off shifts and every available rig remains on the road.

(Copyright 2012 KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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