Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Road closure and detour on Highway 9 near Glyndon begins June 18

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Motorists on Highway 9 will encounter a detour between Clay County Road 18 and Highway 10 near Glyndon starting Monday, June 18. The road will be closed as crews repave the road surface and complete bridge maintenance.

During the closure, traffic will be detoured to County Road 18, County Road 19 and Highway 10. The project is expected to take approximately one week to complete, weather permitting.

MnDOT urges motorists to always drive with caution, and reminds them to slow down in the work zone and never enter a roadway that has been blocked with barriers or cones.

For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or get the free smartphone app at Google Play or the App Store.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

MnDOT encourages safety on roads during busy planting season

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Motorists traveling on Minnesota highways this spring need to be aware of large farm equipment moving from farm to farm, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. 

“Planting season is in full swing and farmers in every corner of the state are out on the highways,” said Ray Starr, acting state traffic engineer. “Motorists need to be prepared to encounter slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane roads.”

Farm equipment is large and heavy, making it hard for operators to accelerate, slow down and stop. The equipment also makes wide turns and sometimes cross over the center line. In addition, farm vehicles can create large blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see approaching vehicles. All of these factors can cause serious crashes. 

Over the past five years, there were 688 crashes involving farm vehicles that resulted in 23 fatalities and 348 injuries.  Nearly half of the fatalities were an occupant of the farm vehicle.

Twenty-two percent of all farm equipment crashes and 29 percent of the fatalities were distraction-related. Other factors were speed-related and alcohol-related.
Motorists should:
·        When approaching farm equipment, slow down and use caution.
·        Watch for debris dropped by trucks. It is safer to brake or drive through debris than to veer into oncoming cars or off the road.
·        Wait for a safe place to pass.
·        Wear seatbelts.
·        Drive with headlights on at all times.

Farm equipment operators should:
·        Use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible.
·        Use slow-moving vehicle emblems on equipment traveling less than 30 mph.
·        Consider using a follow vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night.

New DNR website application enlists public to help document bear expansion

Minnesota’s black bear range has been slowly expanding southward and westward. To better understand and document this expansion, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources designed a new reporting application on its website to gather bear sightings made by the public outside the primary bear range.

Minnesota’s primary bear range covers about 40 percent of state, matching the distribution of the northern forests; however, bears also range south and west to where the forest borders farmland, and beyond. A few bears have been seen near the North Dakota and Iowa borders, and sightings are increasingly reported in the Twin Cities metro suburbs. 

“Nearly all of these far-roaming bears are presumed to be wandering male bears, but one purpose of gathering sightings on the website is to find out how far from the primary range the females have expanded,” said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear project leader. “The reporting tool enables sightings of bears with cubs to be logged.”

The new web application also allows citizen recorders to record whether bears are feeding on natural foods, or non-natural foods like birdfeeders or crops. But the purpose is not to register a complaint about a nuisance bear. That should be done through a local wildlife manager.

Find office locations at mndnr.gov/contact/locator.html or contact the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.

The only sightings being recorded with the new tool are those outside the primary range. A map is provided on the website to distinguish this area.

If a bear is seen outside the primary range, the observer can zoom into the map provided and mark the location. There is no need to enter an address or legal description. All information about the identity of people registering a sighting is considered private data and will only be used by DNR staff when it is necessary to verify an unusual sighting.

“Hunters have long contributed information about bears to assist our management program,” Garshelis said. “This is the first time we’re asking all of the ‘citizen scientists’ in the public to help.”

The reporting app will be disabled for several weeks each year prior to and during hunting seasons.
The DNR bear sightings tool runs on Android, iOS and Windows. The web application can be found at mndnr.gov/hunting/bear/bear-sightings.html

Funds Available For Energy Assistance Program

SAINT PAUL – Minnesota has received an additional $14,739,042 in federal funds for the state’s Energy Assistance Program that helps low-income homeowners and renters pay their heating bills. Minnesota households still have time, through May 31, to apply for assistance.

“The heating season is coming to an end, but there are still many Minnesotans who need help to pay current and past-due heating bills,” said Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman. “We urge all Minnesotans who may qualify to apply for energy assistance.”

The Energy Assistance Program is administered by the Minnesota Commerce Department in partnership with 30 local service providers throughout the state. With the additional funds, Minnesota has now received a total of $116,969,082 for the 2017-2018 heating season from the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Minnesotans who have difficulty paying their heating bills are encouraged to apply for energy assistance. Households with children under age six, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors are especially encouraged to apply. 

Applications are accepted until May 31, 2018. Energy assistance funds are limited and households are served on a first-come, first-served basis. The funds are paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of their customers who apply and qualify for energy assistance.

Last year the Energy Assistance Program helped more than 126,000 Minnesota households. The average annual grant per household was about $520.

Minnesota renters and homeowners earning at or below 50 percent of the state’s median income ($48,077 for a family of four) are eligible to apply for grant money to help pay their heating bills.

To apply, contact the local service provider in your county. To find your service provider, visit the Minnesota EnergyAssistance Program on the Commerce Department website (mn.gov/commerce) or call 800-657-3710.
Other forms of assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations and nonprofit agencies.

For more information on energy topics, contact the Minnesota Commerce Department’s Energy Information Center by email at energy.info@state.mn.us or by phone 651-539-1886 or 800-657-3710.