If you see snowplows out on the highway the next week or so, don't be alarmed - you're not seeing things!  Every year around this time, the Minnesota Department of Transportation conducts their annual snowplow operator training - a chance for these essential workers to sharpen up their skills in advance of the winter season.  The training will run from October 6 to October 16.

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Most years, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has all of their snowplow operators assemble at one location for the exercises and training.  This year however, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, each MNDOT region will be conducting their own training sessions in an effort to comply with social distancing regulations.  Locally, MNDOT District 1 plow operators will conduct their training near Two Harbors.  Drivers might see snowplows out on Highway 61 and Scenic Drive, but they won't be present in downtown Two Harbors.

As one might expect, the Minnesota Department of Transportation owns and operates a lot of snowplows.  With the amount of snow we usually get on average during the winter, MNDOT needs to maintain more than 12,000 miles of roadway - more than 30,000 lane miles.  In order to do this, their snowplow fleet is comprised of approximately 800 trucks with plows.

In addition to the trucks, the department also utilizes combinations of salt and sand to combat slippery road conditions.  Their website offers a good explanation of when each material is put into service and also details why the department doesn't use more sand on the roads.  The narrative also offers a lot of answers to often-asked questions in regards to snow removal.