Travis Novitsky

Highway department braces for winter after slow start to the season

Wind, snow and ice. The fixings for a Minnesota winter arrived to Cook County in unison to start the week of Dec. 14. Throughout the county, staff from the local highway department are treating the roads and preparing for what’s been an otherwise slow start to winter weather, particularly when it comes to snowfall.

The Cook County Highway Department is doing a rotation of sorts this winter to mitigate the risk that plow drivers might be exposed to the new coronavirus as the pandemic rolls into 2021. Cook County Highway Engineer Robbie Hass explains this and other updates from the department in an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs (audio shared below).

In more news, the local highway department is purchasing an excavator as a long-term cost savings plan of action. The department has been renting an excavator for nearly a decade. This is a larger excavator that is highly valued for use in larger ditching projects, gravel pit work and large culvert replacements, Hass said. A five-year lease to own plan has been proposed that will save thousands of dollars over the current rental costs, Hass noted.