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Navigating the Slippery Slope of Winter Road Maintenance

Navigating the Slippery Slope of Winter Road Maintenance

County Connections :Highway Engineer

COOK COUNTY, MINNESOTA November 30, 2019  (LSN) With the change in seasons comes questions about Cook County’s current use of salt-sand mix to treat icy roads.

Thankfully, Minnesota has a strong and nationally-respected road research community working to address this issue.

Each year Minnesota cities and counties dedicate a small percentage of statewide funds ($4 million in 2019) to an annual program administered by a committee known as the Local Road Research Board, or LRRB. Currently, the LRRB and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) are cooperatively researching road salt alternatives and chloride reduction options, including potassium acetate, and equipment alternatives such as reversible plows and a v-shaped slurry spreader.

Unfortunately, prior studies have not yielded any viable alternatives.  In 2017, a LRRB-supported research project led by Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute concluded that environmental impact, product cost, application method, or a combination of these three barriers prohibits widespread use of several road salt alternatives used on airport runways and bridges, including potassium acetate, sodium acetate, potassium formate, sodium formate, urea, glycol-based deicers and succinate-based deicers. With that information in hand, Minnesota’s road maintenance professionals continue to search for an effective and affordable road salt alternative.

Will any of this work lead to changing Cook County’s winter maintenance practices?  Perhaps someday.  The crux is that, in addition to looking at product cost and potential environmental impacts, the highway department must consider effectiveness on low-traffic roads and increased equipment costs before proposing use of any road salt alternative.  For example, the anti-icing brine applied to some high-traffic freeways may not work as effectively on a shady, low-traffic highway that is not plowed as frequently.  Additionally, ordering different shapes of boxes or other equipment add-ons for county plow trucks could limit our ability to efficiently haul gravel during the summer maintenance season.

As we continue to investigate viable options, Cook County meets public safety needs and minimizes road salt use by applying a mix of seven to 10 percent sodium chloride and 90 to 93 percent fine-grained sand.  This mixing ratio, combined with comparatively lower traffic levels, leads to a reduced risk of toxic chloride concentrations in local lakes, rivers, and streams, as compared to metropolitan areas where road maintenance agencies regularly apply 50 percent or greater chloride mixes. In an average winter, Cook County uses 200 to 250 tons of road salt on its paved highways. (Road salt is rarely applied on gravel roads.)  On the other end of the spectrum, Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Scott, and Dakota Counties each apply thousands of tons of road salt each winter.

We understand that winter road maintenance is a complex issue. Cook County is committed to public safety and environmental stewardship, and we continually strive to improve our service in both these areas. If you have questions about this, other county road issues or research funding ideas, please call us at 218-387-3014.

If you travel on a road that appears to need attention outside of normal business hours, we ask you to call the Cook County Sheriff’s Office at 218-387-3030.  The sheriff’s office will follow up with highway department staff. We are fortunate to have a hard-working team of 15 maintenance workers and mechanics who dedicate many hours away from their families to provide winter maintenance services for residents and visitors.

Lastly, the highway department thanks everyone who drives vigilantly, especially during the winter season. Snow removal equipment operates with significantly larger blind spots than an automobile, and plow or grader drivers sometimes operate in reverse to adequately push snowbanks or spread salt-sand mix at an intersection. Please give them room – at least five car lengths – and use extra caution when approaching or meeting any snow removal equipment. By working together, we can navigate the slippery slope of winter road maintenance and better prepare for the winters to come.

For more information on this and other county highway issues, visit the highway department’s page at https://co.cook.mn.us. Information on statewide road conditions is available on MnDOT’s 511 statewide travel and road condition site, https://www.511mn.org/.

By: Cook County Highway Engineer Krysten Foster

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.

 

About Cook County Minnesota

Cook Country Minnesota   Lake Superior News

Cook County is at the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead region in the remote northeastern part of the state, stretching from the shores of Lake Superior to the US-Canada border. By land it borders Ontario, Canada to the north, and Lake County, MN to the west.  The highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain is 2,301 feet and the highest lake,  Total Area equals 3,339.72 sq miles

Cook County is home to three national protected areas:
Grand Portage National Monument
Superior National Forest
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Cook County include:
 Grand Marais     Lutsen Mountains
 Gunflint Trail      Superior Hiking Trail
 Grand Portage 


Snow Levels Minnesota
Snow Depth  Minnesota   Lake Superior News

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Norm Foster’s LUNENBURG

Romantic Comedy Next Up at Magnus Theatre

Robert McKenzie 0 557 Article rating: No rating

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~~~~  October 14, 2021  (LSNews)  This autumn, Magnus Theatre invites audiences to a summer weekend on the coast in Norm Foster’s LUNENBURG. This charming romantic comedy marks the fourteenth of Foster’s works produced at Magnus Theatre since the world premiere of BRAVADO in 1988.
 

#LSN_Arts  #LSNews_TBay 

Thunder Bay Venue the Apollo Facing Eviction

now is the time to stand up and fight for them 

Robert McKenzie 0 1312 Article rating: 5.0

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~  October 8, 20212 (LSNews)  The Apollo, a long-running venue in Thunder Bay, ON, is facing imminent closure and is seeking to raise money to save the space.

The campaign notes that the owners, mother Constantina Stathopoulos and daughter Sheila Stathopoulos, were victims of fraud in the 2000s. The two have also faced medical struggles: Sheila had stage 3 ovarian cancer and experiences daily chemotherapy fatigue, while Constantina has Alzheimer's.

#LSNews_TBay  #LSN_Econ #LSN_Arts 

Lake Superior below the seasonal long-term average first time since April 2014

Lake Michigan-Huron water levels have declined significantly

Robert McKenzie 0 1741 Article rating: No rating

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~  October 5, 2021 (LSNews)  Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron have both continued their seasonal declines in September. As a result of the drier than average conditions, water levels on Lake Superior have gone below the seasonal long-term average for the first time since April 2014. Lake Michigan-Huron water levels have declined significantly from the record-high levels observed in recent years, but water levels remain above the seasonal long-term average. Lake Superior outflows continue to be set in consideration of water levels upstream and downstream.

#LSN_Shipping  #LSN_ONNews #LSN_MMNews  #LSN_WiscNews #LSN_MiNews 

Wisconsin Gems For Fall Colors

Make Your Plans Today – Some Areas At Or Near Peak Colors

Robert McKenzie 0 1667 Article rating: No rating

NORTHERN, WISCONSIN  ~~  October 3, 2021  (LSNews)  Wisconsin is home to many scenic landscapes that showcase the delightful colors of nature in autumn. We're starting to see the leaves change colors, with some parts of the state already at or nearing peak colors.

#LSN_Outdoors  #LSN_WiscNews 

CBP Nets Nearly $230k in Undeclared Currency at Ambassador Bridge

Detroit, Michigan, United States, with Windsor, Ontario, Canada

James Brown 0 1675 Article rating: No rating

DETROIT, MICHIGAN   ~  September 29, 2021  (LSNews) Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Field Operations seized $200,000 in undeclared U.S. currency at the Canadian border early Tuesday morning.

The cash was discovered by officers during a series of outbound commercial vehicle inspections near the Ambassador Bridge port of entry. at Detroit, Michigan, United States, with Windsor, Ontario, Canada bridge

#LSN_PublicSafety  #LSN_HomelandSecurity 

TBSO Linda Penner wins Orchestras Canada’s 2021 Betty Webster Award

Robert McKenzie 0 1800 Article rating: No rating

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO   ~~   September 29, 2021  (LSNews)  Linda Penner is the winner of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for 2021.

Linda Penner was nominated by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. The award announcement, delivered by video, celebrates her long-time contributions to the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, the communities it serves, and the role she has played in sustaining the spirit and resilience of its musicians, staff, and volunteers.

#LSN_Arts  #LSNews_Tbay

Beacons of Hope exhibition opening at Concordia University-St. Paul

Solo exhibition by Anne Labovitz

Robert McKenzie 0 4641 Article rating: No rating

NORTHERN, MINNESOTA  ~~~~~~  September 16, 2021  (LSNews)  I am pleased to announce the opening of my latest exhibition, Beacons of Hope curated by Dr. Megan Arney Johnston at Concordia University-St. Paul.  The site-specific works center on the conceptual and gestural elements of hope.
 

Beacons of Hope opens Thursday, September 16th from 5-7pm with an artist talk at 5:30.  Please join me.  If you're unable to attend, the artist talk will be recorded and shared at a later date, and the works will be on view through October 13th.
 

#LSN_Art  #LSN_MNNews 

Lake Superior water levels have declined and have reached the seasonal long-term average

for the first time since April 2014

Robert McKenzie 0 3913 Article rating: 4.0

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~~~~~~  September 13, 2021 (LSNews)   As a result of the drier than average weather and water supply conditions, Lake Superior water levels have declined and have reached the seasonal long-term average for the first time since April 2014. Conditions have been wetter in the Lake Michigan-Huron basin and water levels are midway between the seasonal long-term average and the record high water levels that were observed last year. Lake Superior outflows continue to be set in consideration of water levels upstream and downstream.

#LSN_Shipping #LSN_MNNews #LSN_WiscNews #LSN_CircleTour 

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