Unfinished road construction poses hazard for snowmobilers

This article submitted by Mike Travis, MnDot on 1/27/98.

With the recent snowfalls allowing increased snowmobiling activity, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) would like to remind snowmobilers with a word of caution about riding in recent road construction areas.

There are several locations throughout the state where road construction activities took place last season and may not be completely finished yet. In most situations, that means the landscaping work on the ditch and right-of-way area will be done this coming spring.

Those areas have several construction related items in place over the winter months that could present a safety hazard to an unsuspecting snowmobiler.

Specific road construction sites in central Minnesota that snowmobilers should be aware of include: Highway 55 between Paynesville and Belgrade and Highway 23 between Waite Park and Interstate 94 in the St. Cloud area, both in Stearns County.

Many of these locations have silt fences installed crossways in the ditch bottom for erosion control during the spring run-off. These fences are made of black fabric reinforced with woven wire held up by steel fence posts. They are usually located near culverts and bridges.

Another technique called ďbale checksĒ is also used for erosion control. This amounts to several bales of hay positioned across the in-slope (area closest to the road), and ditch bottom and possibly on the back slope as well (area farthest from the road).

Other things snowmobilers should be on the look out for include: soil stockpiles, construction materials such as concrete culverts and pipes, ďtĒ post steel culvert markers about three to four feet high on the ends of culverts, scattered large rocks and boulders, wooden survey marker stakes, steel right-of-way markers in the ground about two feet high, and freshly sodded locations or areas seeded and covered with a wood fiber blanket.

MnDOTís advice is to avoid these construction areas if at all possible, otherwise use extreme caution when traveling through these locations and go around the obstacles using the back slope.

Driving over or into any of these objects could cause damage to the snowmobile and injury to the riders. Any damage done to many of these construction area items, especially the silt fences and hay bales, must be repaired and replaced at added expense by the spring thaw.

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