Snow Plows Clear Duluth Roads; A Storm Duluth Can Hardly Afford

By KBJR News 1

April 11, 2013 Updated Apr 11, 2013 at 8:02 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the city of Duluth have been clearing snow from State Highways and city streets since just before noon today.

Plowing crews began pre–treating the roads prior to the snow fall and parked in strategic areas to be ready to begin clearing.

More than two inches of snow has fallen since noon and more than 120 trucks are out on Duluth highways and streets.

"We're ready to go at any time in the winter time. We are in our winter season and this is what we have to expect," Beth Petrowske, Pubilc Affairs Director with MNDOT, said.

MNDOT primarily used salt throughout the day to maintain a steady melt of the snow and to prevent ice from forming.

There are 98 MNDOT trucks out on state roads and 22 city–owned plows throughout Duluth.

Spokespeople from both departments say there will be 24 hour plowing until the snow stops.

"We're putting out mostly sand because we're still plowing and we are going to have to continue to plow so we have to get the sand out there so people have some traction when getting up and down these hills. Once the snow lets up, we'll use more salt to burn off whatever is left," Kelly Fleissner, City of Duluth Maintenance Operations, said.

When driving behind a plow, remember to keep a safe distance.

Snow plow drivers told us they cannot always see directly behind their vehicles creating a dangerous situation.

"It's a little greasy underneath. I'm just trying to get this all wiped off and get them some traction so they can stop and get moving," Kevin Loiselle, City of Duluth Snow Plow Driver, said.

Kevin Loiselle says high winds are also posing problems for drivers.

White–out conditions have played a role in many accidents that the 13 year driver has seen.

Snow plow drivers have are sent out with a plan.

"First we do the mains to get everybody home, then we'll jump on the residential after our mains are clear," Loiselle said.

Loiselle says nearly 30 miles of road are cleared, sanded and salted at a time.

The truck we were in carries five yards of a salt and sand mix and that lasted him 30 minutes.

"If everybody would slow down a little bit, you know, it wouldn't be so bad. But everybody thinks it's summer out here," Loiselle said.

Today's snowfall is not just an inconvenience...it's also an expense that Duluth can hardly afford.

Just last month Fleissner told us the city was over budget by $150K. He says money is being drawn out next season's budget to cover this.

Re–budgeting is already taking place to cover next season's snow removal.

Fleissner says he'll know how much this snow fall will cost next season's budget...how those funds will be replaced will be decided in the coming weeks.

Justin Reis, NNC.
jreis@kbjr.com