MnDOT, Tow Truck Companies Bracing for Winter Storm

Posted at: 02/08/2013 9:14 PM
Updated at: 02/08/2013 10:31 PM
By: Steve Tellier

The snow may still be 24 hours away, but the preparations for its arrival have already begun. Minnesota Department of Transportation crews have been pre-treating trouble spots, but they're not the only ones gearing up for a busy weekend.

"A little bit of flurries, and then moving on to some freezing drizzle, then after that, getting hit with the snow," said Kent Barnard, with MnDOT's public affairs department.

That's mother nature's menu for the metro, and many people are preparing -- some in unorthodox ways.

"We pray. We pray the equipment don't break down. We pray that everyone's going to show up for work that's supposed to," said Roy Carlson, the owner of Budget Towing in St. Paul, with a laugh.

Carlson has seen a lot of snow in his four decades in the towing business. He knows winter weather can be a windfall.

"It quadruples business, and I don't think there's a tow company out there that could take every call when that happens," Carlson said.

In fact, he's hiring.

"With two dismal winters, you don't have a big stock to pick from," Carlson said.

In terms of equipment, MnDOT does have a big stock to pick from. And some of it has already been busy.

"We did start pre-treating yesterday. We'll be pre-treating tonight, and that is specifically those areas where we do have some problems," Barnard said.

The rest will sit still until the snow starts to fall.

"We're pretty much prepared to hit the road as the weather moves in," Barnard said.

MnDOT is urging drivers to be patient and leave plenty of time to travel this weekend. One tow truck driver also has a friendly tip to avoid traffic problems.

"Get on a Sun Country plane and go somewhere else," Carlson said.

Some MnDOT maintenance managers have actually been discussing lower speed limits on all highways during winter storms. They said it may cut down on crashes and help keep more salt on the roadways, instead of cars brushing it off. But right now, that's just an idea in the very early stages of discussion. There aren't any formal plans or proposals just yet.