Aug. 5, 2020
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‘Park the Phone,’ one year on

Photo: electronic road sign over a highway.

Aug. 1 marked the one-year anniversary of the Hands-Free law in Minnesota. On that day, electronic signs around the state, like this one on Hwy 169 in Eden Prairie, displayed messages reminding motorists to “Park the phone.” According to the Department of Public Safety, law enforcement officials in Minnesota have ticketed more than 19,000 motorists over the past year since the hands-free cellphone law went into effect. Extra enforcement is on Minnesota roads through Aug. 8. Photo by Joseph Palmersheim


Hwy 47 Isle to Ogilvie project to rebuild 22 miles of road

By Joseph Palmersheim

Photo: a crane lifting a beam at a construction site

Concrete bridge beams were delivered one-at-a-time to the Little Ann River jobsite on semi-trailers in mid-July, then hoisted with a crane onto the bridge abutments. Next, crews constructed the concrete bridge deck. Photo by Rob Abfalter

Hwy 47 is closed to through traffic on the 22 miles between Hwy 27 in Isle and Hwy 23 in Ogilvie through mid-August as part of seasonal construction work.

Benefits of the $14.7 million project in Mille Lacs and Kanabec counties include new, smoother road surface with use of a full-depth reclamation, which results in long-life pavement; two rebuilt bridges; and improved drainage. Road safety improvements include upgraded roadside guardrails, mumble and rumble strips, and added turn/bypass lanes.

“The project is going well and is on schedule,” said Rob Abfalter, construction supervisor. “The contractor is reconstructing the road surface between Isle and Woodland. In mid-August work will shift back to the Woodland to Ogilvie segment, this includes the detour.”

So far crews have lined or replaced most of the 40 underground pipes, installed guardrails, widened areas for turn lanes and are reconstructing the two bridges over the Little Ann River and Ann Lake.

Workers are also reconstructing the road surface between Isle and Woodland and rebuilding the Ann Lake bridge.

Multiple crews are working on the six-month project, which is expected to be complete in October 2020.

Project information:



Maintenance report looks back at the winter that was

By Anne Meyer

Photo: snowplows plowing snow on a highway

MnDOT snowplow drivers from Plymouth Truck Station clear roads in northeast Twin Cities metro. Photo by Rich Kemp

With the start of a new fiscal year, MnDOT’s maintenance crews can close the books on the 2019-20 winter season.

Overall, Minnesota had less snow, fewer storms and a mild finish, according to new numbers in the MnDOT Winter Maintenance At-a-Glance annual report. There were several notable events this season, like the pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm and the ice storm the weekend after Christmas that caused a no-travel advisory for highways in the Twin Cities metro area.

MnDOT spent $127 million statewide, with crews working almost 147,000 hours of overtime during the 2019-20 winter season.  The Metro district spent the most money, with $29 million, and District 8 spent the least, at $9.1 million. The report breaks down costs for each district.

The season’s Winter Severity Index totaled 128, nearly 30 points lower than the last winter season. MnDOT creates a Winter Severity Index by comparing nine different factors like snowfall amounts, wind impact and road temperatures.

Snowplow drivers put less rock salt on the roads in 2019-20 compared to the 2018-19 winter, but crews statewide also used more liquid applications like brine and potassium acetate.

MnDOT is also investing in ways to give snowplow drivers more data behind the wheel. The agency is building 62 new Road Weather Information Systems this summer, which will bring the total to 161 active RWIS sites across the state. Each unit comes with camera views of conditions. An improved website will include those features when it launches this fall.

See the full 2019-20 Winter At-a-Glance report and reports from previous years on the maintenance website at



On the Job: Carol Magurany-Brotski helps staff ponder, prepare for ‘What happens if…’

By Rich Kemp

Photo: Carol Magurany-Brotski, pictured with her dog

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Carol Magurany-Brotski has worked from home with her office partner, Tuukka. Submitted photo

Carol Magurany-Brotski is the emergency management planning director for continuity of operations planning in the Emergency Management Office in St. Paul. She has worked for MnDOT for nine years and for the State of Minnesota for more than 20 years.

What has been your career path at MnDOT?
I spent three wonderful years in District 1 as the safety administrator. I left the state for a short period and returned to MnDOT as the Central Office safety administrator for one year and then took a new opportunity to work in the Emergency Management Office in 2015.

What do you do in your job?
My job is to guide and assist MnDOT in continuity of operations planning, or COOP, and disaster recovery. Basically, I help prepare MnDOT to have plans in place to continue our critical priority of services after a disruption of normal business operations. The goal of COOP is to sustain our state essential functions to our internal and external state holders. Continuity planning involves strategies to the question, “What happens if?” What happens if there is a power failure? What happens if there is a weather event that has a direct hit on one of our buildings? What happens if there is a cyberattack? What happens if there is a huge pandemic event that impacts our work and personal lives? Continuity Planning is required under the Governor’s Executive Order 19-23. Elements of COOP include identifying our priority services, having a mass notification system, succession planning, alternate sites, teleworking, testing plans, conducting tabletop and functional exercises and after-action reviews.

What is your favorite part about your job?
I love working with people. I love the dedicated spirit of MnDOT employees and leadership. Also, MnDOT has many unsung heroes who work COOP planning on COOP teams in the districts and offices. They take on the extra work to ensure plans are in place. I love the MnDOT can-do attitude in getting things done.

What are the biggest challenges?
Squeezing COOP time on schedules. But seriously, there are no challenges. Challenges are opportunities to learn, to grow and to make positive change. Currently, the biggest opportunity is keeping up with the COVID-19 impacts to our operations, following executive orders, keeping up with non-COVID-19 COOP planning and having a work/life balance.

What kind of changes have you seen in your job?
Pre-COVID-19, MnDOT had different levels of teleworking. When I traveled the state, preaching the gospel of COOP to districts and offices, I promoted that teleworking was our friend and a valuable asset in sustaining our operations during a business interruption. We have been very fortunate at MnDOT to have employees doing some level of teleworking before COVID-19 struck. COVID-19 has enhanced our teleworking capabilities. Our technology investment, the TIM office and our MNIT partner have played a huge role in our COVID-19 telework response.

Do you or a co-worker have an interesting job to share with readers? Send us your ideas, and we’ll contact you for more information.

Recent employee profiles:

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