New MnDOT Commissioner Ready to Tackle Snow Removal

Updated: 12/12/2012 6:55 PM By: Tom Hauser

Charlie Zelle knows a thing or two about the importance of keeping highways clear in winter weather. He's the CEO of Jefferson Bus Lines, a company that's been in his family for three generations.  

Next month, he'll leave that job to take over as the new commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. He was introduced by Governor Dayton today at a news conference in Minneapolis.

Zelle was immediately asked for his response to criticism faced by MnDOT and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in plowing away the snow and ice from Sunday's snowstorm.  

"We appreciate that safety is really important," he told reporters. He said from what he observed, MnDOT crews did their best during and after the storm, but says "it was a confluence of tough events" with wet snow followed by plunging temperatures.

Zelle recalled stories of how his grandfather used to attach plows to the front of Jefferson buses in the 1920's to help clear the snow.  He jokes that he won't be able to do that now, but he will make efficient snow and ice removal a priority at MnDOT.  

He will start his new job January 15th.