Otter Tail County is predominantly rural and has a population of approximately 58,000 with a current trend where population is increasing, particularly in our rural areas. The county is approximately 41 miles in the north to south direction and 54 miles in the east to west direction.
Otter Tail County contains 2,213 square miles of land area and over 1,000 lakes. The terrain varies from the flat open farmland of the Red River Valley to rolling pastures and woods.
Highway Department Maintains
The Otter Tail County Highway Department is responsible for maintaining 2096 lane miles of both rural and urban roadway. The county is divided into 3 maintenance areas with a maintenance group leader in each area. We have a maintenance staff of 31 individuals comprised of the following:
- 1 Maintenance Supervisor
- 1 Assistant Maintenance Supervisor
- 2 Sign Technicians
- 3 Maintenance Group Leaders
- 3 Mechanics
- 21 Maintenance Workers
We have 26 plow routes with one operator assigned to each one of these routes. Each route has approximately 75 to 90 lane miles. The Otter Tail County Highway Department has only enough personnel to operate 1 shift daily.
This policy supersedes all previous Otter Tail County written documents and unwritten policies on the subject of snow removal and ice control. This policy is effective as of December 13, 2005 by action of the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners at their regular board meeting on December 13, 2005.
Ice Control Policy
Otter Tail County’s “Ice Control Policy” shall provide the following minimum levels of service:
- Ice control includes the removal of sleet, ice, frozen slush ice and hard packed snow.
- The county does not have the resources necessary to maintain a bare pavement policy.
- The primary materials used in maintaining roads in a reasonably safe and serviceable condition throughout the winter season are salt, calcium chloride and sand. The combination of materials used to combat any particular storm condition usually depends on such variable factors as air temperature, road surface temperature, snow fall rates, traffic, wind and time of day.
- Desired effectiveness and economic considerations are also very important. Also the availability of materials will at times regulate the level of service.
- Controlled intersections, curves and hills shall be sanded to provide skid resistance as soon as practical after a snow event and as soon as possible after plowing operations are completed, except during black ice and freezing rain conditions.
During these conditions, starting time and chemical applications will be as directed by the County Engineer or Maintenance Supervisor.
Sanding on highway straight-of-ways shall be done only in extreme conditions in the judgment of the County Engineer / County Highway Maintenance Supervisor. Sanding on general snow pack will be done very lightly as time and materials allow.
Winter Highway Maintenance Goal
The removal of snow and ice from Otter Tail County Highways is the most important job confronting county highway department maintenance personnel during the winter season. The safety of the traveling public and service ability of county highways are the primary concerns of the maintenance crews during this time.
Our goal is to keep people and products moving as efficiently and safely as possible on our county highways during adverse winter weather conditions within the limits of the financial resources available to the Otter Tail County Highway Department. To achieve this goal, it will be necessary to take into account questions of public policy and the balancing of competing policy objectives. Factors which will influence these decisions include cost considerations and the safety of members of the public and highway department personnel.
Snow Removal Policy
Otter Tail County’s “Snow Removal Policy” shall provide the following minimum levels of service.
- Snow removal shall begin when in the judgment of the County Engineer / County Highway Maintenance Supervisor when the accumulation reaches a point where it inhibits traffic flow or is starting to compact on highways. Plowing will continue as visibility allows.
- Snow storm and visibility conditions will cause adjustments to be made in plowing start times.
- The County Engineer and / or Maintenance Supervisor shall make decisions on calling the plow crews off the roads because of poor visibility, safety of the employees, and safety of the public and to schedule different starting times during the week and weekends in the best interest of Otter Tail County.
- The department shall be available to assist in any emergency on public or private roads as directed by the County Sheriff’s Department.
- Mailboxes and fences damaged during snow removal will be evaluated case by case. Only those mailboxes and fences that were properly located and installed, and which were damaged by actual contact with county equipment may be repaired at the county’s expense.
- Residents shall not plow or blow snow from driveways onto highways.
- Residents must remove parked or stalled vehicles from county highways to assist in snow removal. Highway Department personnel may assist stranded motorists by contacting law enforcement / emergency personnel for them.
- The Highway Department will not attempt to remove stuck vehicles unless directed by law enforcement personnel to eliminate a safety hazard.