Approximately 280 Minnesota Department of Transportation snowplow operators in southeast Minnesota are gathering this week for their annual winter preparedness meetings as MnDOT readies itself to shift its seasonal focus from construction to snow and ice.

The meetings in Rochester and Owatonna are part of the training each operator receives in MnDOT’s 11-county District 6 in southeast Minnesota. They are provided with updates and new information about technology, equipment, procedures and safety. Meetings in Rochester are Oct. 7-8 and in Owatonna on Oct. 9-10.

“MnDOT prepares for snow and ice season long before the calendar says so,” said Tim Zierden, maintenance superintendent in District 6 west. “The meetings this week provide updates on their equipment, policies and anything else new that is helpful to know before the pace quickens when the snow flies.”

In MnDOT’s 11-county District 6 there are 101 snowplows on the roads for MnDOT. During heavy snow storms, the drivers are deployed in 12-hour shifts to give 24-hour coverage to maintain travel on the 3,670 lane miles of state highways in southeast Minnesota.

Now is also a good time for motorists to begin their own preparation of their vehicles and get in the habit of checking www.511mn.org or calling 511 for real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota. For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to www.mndot.gov/workzone/winter.html.

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