Updated: snow storm wreaks havoc, but no serious injuries

• Police spent day responding to minor accidents, getting people unstuck

by Jim Boyle

Editor

Elk River Police assisted stuck motorists and responded to many minor vehicle property damage accidents during last week’s snowstorm.

No serious injuries were reported during storm Thursday or on Friday, Feb. 20-21. Officers did, however, respond to about 25 motorist-assist calls in less than 24 hours — mostly to help free stuck motorists. Plow drivers got stuck, too.

Photos by Jim Boyle  Minnesota Department of Transportation crews were out in force trying to catch up with the snow that accumulated. The 11-inch snowfall in Elk River made it difficult.

Photos by Jim Boyle
Minnesota Department of Transportation crews were out in force trying to catch up with the snow that accumulated. The 11-inch snowfall in Elk River made it difficult.

Collins Bros. retrieved a Minnesota Department of Transportation plow in the 17700 block of Highway 10 after it went off the road and into the median.

A police officer helped one individual, who recently had arm surgery, with a flat tire. To get a tow, he was told the wait would be two-plus  hours.

A white four-door Cadillac slid into the side of a school bus near Salk Middle School that afternoon and kept going. No damage was found on the bus, but the incident was documented.

There were six accidents with damage to vehicles as a direct result of the storm and only one that came in as a personal injury accident. That person, who rolled a vehicle in the area of Highway 10 and Kelley Farm Road, refused to be transported to the hospital.

Elk River Police assisted with traffic control at the intersection of Main and Carson streets until salt could be applied to the road to make it more passable. A semitrailer had gotten stuck on an incline.

The storm dropped 11 inches of wet, heavy snow, temperatures have plummeted and winds picked up, leaving many roads snow-packed and icy.

Police have have responded to 42 crashes between Feb. 20-27, however, none have been serious.

Motorists turning right onto Jackson Avenue from westbound Highway 10 had a difficult time staying in their lane and getting enough traction to make it up the hill to the railroad crossing.

Motorists turning right onto Jackson Avenue from westbound Highway 10 had a difficult time staying in their lane and getting enough traction to make it up the hill to the railroad crossing.

“People have slowed way down,” said Elk River Police Capt. Bob Kluntz.

Snowy year has kept plow drivers busy

City plows are usually called out 12-16 times each season for major plow events. This year, crews have already been called out 20 times with March and April still ahead of us.

“Like most cities, we have nearly exhausted our salt supplies and are now mixing sand with salt,” street superintendent Mark Thompson said.

Snow removal is primarily the responsibility of the streets department,  but Thompson said its “a collaborative effort.”

Thompson said it typically takes 8-10 hours to clear the entire city.

“With only a handful of certified staff to plow, proper rest is needed before returning to the streets in the interest of safety,” Thompson said. “With heavy snowfalls, crews return to priority areas before clearing lesser-used streets.”

Park maintenance staff is responsible for snow removal on approved city sidewalks, city building parking lots and sidewalks, and city park parking lots. The removal of a 3-5 inch snowfall takes about three days to complete.

 Here’s the entire news release from Thompson and the Elk River Streets Department.

Elk River, Minn. – Snow removal is primarily the responsibility of the Streets Division but it is truly a collaborative effort.

• Police monitor street conditions and enforce snow-related ordinances

• Mechanics keep plows ready to operate and conduct repairs as necessary during Storms

• Staff from Parks, Wastewater, and Building Maintenance help when workload warrants

• Residents help by complying with snow-related ordinances and reporting slippery intersections or other unsafe areas they encounter

City plows are usually called out 12 – 16 times each season for major plow events.

This year, crews have already been called out 20 times with March and April still ahead of us. Like most cities, we have nearly exhausted our salt supplies and are now mixing sand with salt. This should Suffixe for now, but it will require additional street sweeping and stormwater basin cleaning in the spring.

The city has 8 plows, 3 loaders, a 4WD tractor with a plow, 4 small plows, and a road grader to handle approximately 150 lane miles, 220 cul-de-sacs, and over 20 public parking lots. The Streets Division has 8 full-time maintenance operators who are supplemented by staff from Parks, Wastewater, and Building Maintenance for assistance during snow events.

For safety and convenience, major streets are plowed first, then secondary and residential streets.

Crews follow weather reports to ensure maximum plow coverage before high traffic periods. It typically takes 8-10 hours to clear the entire city. With only a handful of certified staff to plow, proper rest is needed before returning to the streets in the interest of safety. With heavy snowfalls, crews return to priority areas before clearing lesser-used streets. Residents are asked to be patient.

Park Maintenance is responsible for snow removal on approved city sidewalks, city building parking lots and sidewalks, and city park parking lots. We have one sidewalk snow removal machine. The removal of a 3-5 inch snowfall takes about three days to complete.

It is inevitable that driveways will be blocked during plowing operations. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Another frequent concern is mailboxes. Drivers do not deliberately knock over or damage mailboxes. Reduced visibility during a storm may cause accidental strikes and heavy, wet snow striking previously broken or rotting mail box posts will sometimes damage mail boxes. Mail boxes may be placed in the city right-of-way but at the owner’s risk, understanding that the right-of-way is intended for snow storage during plow events. Owners are encouraged to place mailboxes at the maximum usable distance from the roadway pavement, typically 2 feet.

Residents can help during a snowstorm by heeding the following suggestions:

1. Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving.

It takes about three days to clear sidewalks in the City of Elk River after a major snow event of three to five Inches of snow.

It takes about three days to clear sidewalks in the City of Elk River after a major snow event of three to five Inches of snow.

2. Reduce your speed and drive cautiously.

3. Remain off the streets during snow storms unless absolutely necessary.

4. Do not allow children to play, tunnel, or make ‘snow forts’ at the edge of streets.

5. Do not plow, blow, or throw back onto a plowed street.

6. If there is catch basin in front of your house, ensure it is kept clear of snow.

7. If there is a fire hydrant, clear it or flag it so the Fire Department can locate it.

8. It is a violation of Minnesota Statute 160.27 to push or blow snow across an already cleared public roadway.

9. The more cars off the street, the faster and better we can clear the roadway.

10. During plowing operations some lawn areas within the city’s right-of-way will

inadvertently be damaged. To minimize damage, install reflectors at the edge of your

lawn as a guide for plow operators. Install lawn sprinkler systems away from the edge of

the road. The city is not responsible for repairing or replacing damaged sprinkler heads.

11. Please be patient. Whether it is your driveway or the many miles of roads, snow removal is an arduous and time consuming job. Plow operators do not get a shift change. If a storm is of long duration, crews continue as long as they safely can.

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