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Plow drivers prepare for winter season with pandemic precautions in place

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DULUTH, MN -- Ready or not, winter is coming.

MnDOT and Carlton County's Highway departments are gearing up for the winter weather.

"It's a little bit early, but we're ready to go. Our drivers are ready and will be out on the roads," said Margie Nelson, Public Affairs for MnDOT District 1.

COVID-19 has forced them to make changes to how they prepare.

"We've been fortunate, it hasn't impacted us immensely as far as crew-wise and our personnel has stayed the same," said Robert Dahl, maintenance superintendent for Carlton County. "But it affects us every day in the way that we show up to work and what we're doing when we get to work."

Wearing masks and sanitizing the inside of trucks, drivers for both departments are assigned a garage they work in to keep social distancing and help with contact tracing.

Nelson adds, "Following the state regulations, we know that we're providing an essential service for drivers. We're being careful and trying to take care of our people so that we can keep taking care of the roads."

The departments add they are in contact with county and state health departments should any driver test positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, county departments are keeping their distance by having one driver per truck, but it's also important for drivers to keep a distance when behind a plow truck.
If you can't see their mirrors, they can't see you.

With safety in mind, plow officials want to remind everyone to take is slow on the roads.

"Roads are slick and visibility is down. So just plan ahead, and take extra time," said Dahl.

Both departments say a normal shift for drivers lasts around 10 to 12 hours.

If a driver is to test positive with COVID-19 plans are in place.

Both departments said they aren't concerned about getting the roads clear, no matter the situation.

Emma Quinn

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