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Beltrami County issues snowplow policy each winter

Each winter snow causes hazardous driving conditions in Minnesota. While the Minnesota Department of Transporation has a snowplow policy in place, county snowplow policies do differ, contrary to popular belief that all roads in Minnesota should be free of snow and ice in the winter.

While the state does its best to make sure all the roads are free of snow and ice during winter, Beltrami County issues its own policy for snowplowing and the Beltrami County Highway Department adheres to it.

Snow plowing standard operating proceedures

The removal of snow and ice from the county's roadways is one of the most important jobs confronting us, the County Maintenance Department, during the winter months. The safety and comfort of the public shall at all times be the primary consideration of all county maintenance personnel. Snow and ice removal operations must be conducted in such a manner so as to provide the safest and most economical operation as possible.

The following policies are general in nature and will not cover all situations encountered while snow plowing. During the winter season Beltrami County Highway Department will be responsible for over 700 miles of county roads, 300 miles of township roads.


In order to complete our plowing in the most economical and efficient manner consistent with our responsibilities, the following plowing priorities must be observed by all crews.

First priority: All black top roads starting with collector areas close to town and working out towards the rural areas thereafter.

Second priority: All gravel county roads.

Third priority: All township roads


Snow removal shall begin when accumulation reaches a point where it inhibits traffic flow or is liable to compact on the black top. 1" wet heavy snow or 2" light fluffy snow will be the general rule of thumb.

Snowplows usually will not be dispatched until after a snowfall has ceased. Normal snow removal operations begin between the hours of 3-4 a.m. Once operations have begun they will continue until all roads are cleared. The plows may be called back in due to extremely hazardous conditions such as restricted visibility or dangerously low temperatures. During extended periods of snowfall, exceptions will be made at the supervisor's discretion.

Beltrami County does not assure a completely bare road and usually will not sand entire sections of the roadway except in the event of an ice storm.

Users of the highway system are reminded to exercise caution and drive with care. The legal speed may not be possible at all times.

Level of desired service

Each general snowplow operator will be expected to work at least an eight hour shift. During severe snow emergencies or full plowing call out, all operators may be required to work a 12-14 hour shift. No operator will be expected to work over a 14 hour shift in a 24-hour period due to concerns for the safety and health of each individual. The department should endeavor to have the bituminous routes open in four hours and the complete system open in 48 hours. The bituminous routes have been broken down to three levels of service. Priority: Extremely high traffic volume areas of high collection. Primary: Areas of rural collection, moderate to high volume. Secondary: Low traffic count, low volume rural areas.

Priority roads: Both lanes on two lane roads will have bare wheel paths with intermittent or completely bare pavement before coverage time is reduced.

Primary: Both lanes will have intermittent bare wheel paths with sanded hills, curves, intersections and stop signs.

Secondary: One wheel path in each lane will have intermittent bare pavement with sanded hills, curves, intersections and stop signs.

Each snowplow route will be reviewed annually and during the season upon the plow operator's request and any necessary changes will be made depending on resources available. Some routes will contain segments that may require additional levels of service.

You can find the policy on the county's website: Highway/SnowPlowing.html.