MnDOT Defends Snowstorm Response

Updated: 12/11/2012 9:55 PM By: Chris Egert

Critical emails have been flying like Sunday night's snow according to MnDOT’s Kent Barnard.

We asked point blank – did you drop the ball on the storm?  Barnard responded, “Oh absolutely not ... we were way out ahead of this storm."

MnDOT says there are several factors that made this snow event unique.

The amount of snow - third biggest December snow on record - yet people still drove in it, which packed the snow down on the roads.

Then came the dramatic 25-degree temperature drop Sunday night into Monday - causing that thick layer of ice to form.

Driver Holly Wetzel described the situation, “The roads are really washboardy - and it is kind of hard to drive."

MnDOT says scraping and salting just hasn't jarred it loose.

Barnard, who spent several hours plowing roads himself, said “It’s a little too cold for the chemicals to work - generally salt works best between freezing and 15 degrees, then it rapidly falls off in effectiveness."

Tuesday morning's commute seemed worse to many drivers than Monday.

One driver told us “I was attempting to go to Lakeville, but I turned around after about an hour and a half."

MnDOT’s explanation for that, according to Barnard, “I know yesterday I was hearing people were able to telecommute - work from home - so that lowered the traffic volume there."

What they can't control is the human factor: stalled cars and accidents slow the MnDOT plows down just like they slow you down.

As of 6 p.m. on Tuesday many of the main roads appears to be clear, but the on and off ramps remain an icy mess.  MnDOT says they really need the temperatures to jump up a bit, which is expected to happen this week, according to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS meteorologists.