Should Minnesota’s County Road Commissions Take on More Responsibility? Katherine Monrowe ENG 101b Professor B. Hatchett November 10, 2008 November 8, 2008 Mr. Walter Hooper Chairman of T. R. County Road Commission 1881 Labree Ave. Thief River Falls, MN 56701 Dear Mr. Hooper, Enclosed is my proposal that the T. R. County Road Commission begin to plow and/or sand the main business commuter roads more frequently after and during inclement weather. During the past couple of years, the road commission has been too ill prepared to deal with the winter weather, and the lack of preparedness has caused many unfortunate accidents.
My proposal would provide concerned Thief River Falls residents with a renewed sense of security. I believe that if the road commission were to increase the amount of times that the roads are plowed during and after winter weather, residents would feel more loyalty and respect towards those who work for our county, and it would help residents to have a safer commute to their jobs and their homes. Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this proposal. Sincerely, Katherine Monrowe Should Minnesota’s County Road Commissions Take on More Responsibility? The winters in Northern Minnesota are harsh, cold, and dangerous.
The average snowfall for the state falls between 30 and 38 inches per year. Within the past five years, the temperatures have been known to fluctuate greatly; from warmer temperatures during the day, to below freezing through the night. These temperature changes can cause dangerous road conditions, such as black ice, which can harmful or even deadly. Along with the weather changes, the county road commissions throughout Minnesota have been making changes as well; they have, significantly, cut back on the amount of time and effort that they spend plowing, sanding, and/or salting the roads.
These cut backs may seem minor, but they are resulting in many unnecessary accidents and less than desirable driving conditions. This forces residents to ask the question, should Minnesota’s country road commissions take on more responsibility? I believe that the best solution to this problem would be to designate specific times of the day, during the winter months, to plowing/sanding/salting, and require that more attention be paid to the roads when the weather conditions are dangerous.
I think that if the residents of Thief River County, and potentially the entire of state Michigan, were provided with a safer commute, they would feel more loyalty and respect towards those who work for our county. After the state of Minnesota implemented many budget cuts, funding was cut too many important organizations, one being the county road commissions. Our government officials fail to recognize all that entails these budget cuts. Not only have the driving conditions suffered, but parking lot conditions have also.
The handicap parking spaces are completely disregarded, causing handicapped and elderly citizens to risk injury by parking or walking through snow and ice (Schneider, 2001). Not only are those who drive themselves affected by the winter road conditions, but those who utilize public transportation are affected as well. If the road commission is slow to take care of roads, then public transportation (e. g. buses, taxis, etc…) will be late to pick up its passengers. This, in turn, will make its passengers late for work and may cause them to lose their jobs.
Also, some may argue that there is always a risk while driving, and more time spent taking care of the roads during the winter will not lessen the risk. However, M. Peden states, “While in practical terms it may not be possible completely to eliminate all risk, it is possible to reduce the exposure to risk of severe injury and to minimize its intensity and consequences (2004). ” Peden’s quote states exactly the point that I am trying to prove. I understand that the risk will not be completely taken away; however, the hances can be significantly reduced if the roads are plowed and sanded. It is clear to see that the budget cuts are more of a risk, and the increase in accidents and the need for tow trucks have cost the state even more money. Marina Fulton, of Kingston, has a thirty-minute commute to her office and when the weather is at its worse, Fulton has to leave an extra hour early just to make it to work on time (2008). Obviously, the winters of Northern Minnesota are going to be dangerous, even though the road conditions could be improved.
However, if the roads were properly taken care of, residents would have more time to get to their jobs and feel safer on their way. I believe that if the T. R. county road commission were to implement the suggestions in this proposal in January of 2009, they’d be able to get a “head start” on the months in which winter is its harshest. Linda Boonstrand, of Thief River, stated “I would definitely feel safer driving with my two young daughters if the road commission were to take care of the roads more thoroughly (2008). With the advances in technology that our country is continuing to make, road commissions should be able to find out when inclement weather in on its way and be prepared to take care of the roads (Committee on Weather Research for Transportation, 2004). In conclusion, I am calling upon my county to spend more time taking care of the roads during the winter months, especially more during inclement weather. I believe that the extra time spent clearing/sanding/salting the roads throughout the winter will result in a safer and happier community.
Thank you for taking the time to review and consider this proposal. I look forward to hearing from you. Works Cited Boonstrand, L. (December 6, 2008) Personal interview. Committee on Weather Research for Surface Transportation. (2004). Where the weather meets the road: a research agenda for improving road weather services. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Retrieved December, 6, 2008, from NetLibrary Database. Downs, A. (2004). Still stuck in traffic: coping with peak-hour traffic congestion. Washington, D. C. Brookings Institution Press.
Retrieved December, 6, 2008, from NetLibrary database.. Fulton, M. (December 5, 2008) Personal interview. King, K. (2002, May 23). New budget calls for slight trims in city taxes, staff – Manager Holt says the city’s “lean operation” continues. The Grand Rapids Press Online. Retrieved on December, 7, 2008, from Newsbank database. Peden, M. M. (2004). World report on road traffic injury prevention. Geneva WHO. Retrieved December, 6, 2008, from NetLibrary database. Schneider, J. (2001, January 29). Tight spot. The Lansing State Journal Online. Retrieved on December, 10, 2008, from Newsbank database.