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City crews dig out Rochester after record breaking snow

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Rochester area has reached a new record with snow fall totals and that means more work, not only for MnDOT, but also local plow drivers.

Folks driving around on roads and highways Tuesday, might have noticed difference in how clear some of them are. While it makes sense that main roads and highways get plowed first, even some heavily used streets are sometimes not that clear. That has to do with different plow crews being responsible for different routes across the region.

We may have made it out of the polar vortex, but winter is far from over.

“The last couple storms have really added up lately. 6 inches of snow is still a lot and it takes a lot of time to clean up,” Rochester city equipment operator Derek Schroeder said.

And when the snow hits, so do the plows.

Although it depends on how much snow accumulates, on a day like Tuesday, when the city has received at least 6 inches of snow,  plow drivers like Derek Schroeder will work 12 hour shifts, to make sure roads are cleared.

“It’s all snow pending,” Schroeder explained. “Lesser amounts of snow we can get by in 8 to 10 hours.”

When it comes to the city of Rochester, there are more than 500 miles of roadway for Public Works crews to clear. The city’s 50 plow operators have numerous obstacles to get around despite being on a tight deadline.

“Our goal usually is to have the area cleared within 24 hours,” Rochester Director of Public Works Chris Petree said. “But really our goal is to clear the roads in 12 hours at the end of a snow event.”

But that doesn’t include county roads like West Circle drive, which is taken care of by Olmsted County. Or main highways like 52 and 14, that’s up to MnDOT and their around the clock crews.

“We only have one crew so we have to provide rest periods for our operators so they can rest before they re-mobilize and go out,” Petree said.

Schroeder agrees.

“You gotta sleep when you can,” Schroeder said. “You cant over exhaust yourself. That keeps not only us safe, but the public safe as well.”

After getting off at 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, Schroeder will be back behind the wheel at 2 a.m., to clean up, once again.

“Something about helping people out just makes it worth it,” Schroeder said.

One thing that made Tuesday’s plowing challenging was the extra garbage cans in the streets due to normal pickup in many neighborhoods. Parked cars are also causing problems for plows. Rochester snow plow operators want to remind folks to try and keep those vehicles on driveways so the the job can be done quicker.


Beret Leone

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