Nowhere are winter driving conditions worse than on rural highways surrounded by open landscapes — where winds create white-out conditions and form drifts that make travel difficult. To combat these hazardous conditions, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) is exploring the use of snow fencing in an upcoming road project on Highway 250 near Lanesboro to be constructed in 2022.
A team from Mn/DOT and the University of Minnesota will be in Lanesboro on March 25 to review the blowing-snow control program that pays private landowners for installing snow control measures on their property. The program offers a variety of blowing-snow control options including long-term solutions such as trees, shrubs, native grasses or structural snow fences and short-term solutions such as standing corn rows or stacked hay bales. These options enable Mn/DOT to work with landowners to develop a tailored solution for their unique property needs.
Currently, Mn/DOT is seeking landowners along the Highway 250 corridor in Fillmore County and other locations willing to install snow fences in areas where blowing snow is a problem.
Dan Gullickson, Mn/DOT blowing-snow fence program coordinator, said farmers who participate in the program get compliments from people who use the road to get to their destinations.
“People who drive those roads to get to work, take their children to school or do other daily trips appreciate those roads being clear and they often thank the landowner for this public service,” Gullickson said.
Snow fences also save taxpayer dollars, as Mn/DOT snowplow operators make fewer trips, resulting in less fuel consumption, and reduce the usage of deicers such as salt, sand and chemicals, for smaller effects on the environment.
Research by Mn/DOT, the University of Minnesota Extension and the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies shows that snow fences can reduce the severity of injuries on road curves by 40 percent. “Participation in the blowing-snow control program is a public service for family, friends, and local community members who drive on Minnesota’s roads in the winter,” said Cassandra Goodnough, who helps coordinate the program in Mn/DOT’s District 6 in Southeast Minnesota.
For more information about the blowing-snow control program or to find out if a property is eligible for the program, contact Cassandra Goodnough at 507-286-7681 or go online at www.dot.state.mn.us/environment/livingsnowfence/.