Importance of Natural Resources

Crow Wing County Highway Dept. Balancing Needs of Road Safety and the Environment

Well, when it comes to clearing off roads
during a winter storm, most people would suspect that using as much salt as
possible as the solution. But for the Crow Wing County Highway Department, there’s a lot to account for when clearing off Minnesota’s snowy roads.
Chaz Mootz has that story. Wintertime in Minnesota can make traveling
difficult in a moment’s notice. For the Crow Wing County Highway Department,
clearing off roads is a balancing act between public safety and environmental
safety. We’re trying to make the roads as safe as possible using the least amount
of chlorides as possible and then having everything, I guess, back as good as can
be. To make sure the Highway Department is doing everything that they can to
ensure a clean environment, they’ve been working with the Crow Wing County Soil
and Water District. Over the last couple years, we’ve trained maybe over 80
different operators and probably about 20 different sort of the private
consultant sort of snow removal. The collaboration between the two agencies
is a proactive approach and pretty innovative as it’s something that hasn’t
been done yet in many areas of Minnesota. By partnering with other agencies such
as Crow Wing Soil & Water District, we hope to gain new knowledge and ensure
our best practices are working to protect the environment and waters. Here
in the Brainerd Lakes, our lakes are really good and really great. Down on the
Metro, not so much, they’re really starting to see the effects of over
salting. In an attempt to not become like a lot
of the bodies of water in the Metro, the two agencies are trying to use as little
salt as possible while still clearing off the roads for the public. We did a
pilot project where we were looking at testing actually the amount of salt in
some lakes to see where we’re at having clean water, leaving the environment as
good as we can when we’re done with it. Our job is very important to us. Before a
snow storm even hits, the salt and sand is pre-treated with a salt brine to make
sure materials stick to the road surface. The salt usage is also monitored when
the snow plow trucks are out on the road, and salt usage is closely monitored
through onboard computers in each of our snow plows, and a live report of
applications is monitored during the event. The close evaluation of salt usage
is important because any extra melt that is not needed adds up quick. One teaspoon
of salt pollute a five-gallon bucket, so it doesn’t take a lot, even for the
homeowners or the other people. We give 110 percent every event, working early
morning or staying late, using best practices to try and get the roads back
to their wheel path or barrel lane as quickly as possible. With jurisdiction of
over 600 miles of county and secondary roads, the Crow Wing County
Highway Department already has a lot on their plate, and while keeping the
environment clean isn’t part of the job description, the Crow Wing County Highway
Department goes the extra mile to keep the Brainerd Lakes area clean. reporting
in Brainerd, Chaz Mootz, Lakeland News. The Crow Wing County Highway Department plans
to continue to work with the Crow Wing County Soil and Water District in the
future in an effort to keep the Brainerd Lakes area a clean environment.

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