Couple years back I took Florida and a few other southern states to task for shuttin’ down I-10 for days because it was below freezing, might rain, and they had no salt. To further shame them I used the example of my home state’s snowplows on steroids, installed by MNDOT themselves with the reinforced snowplows supplied by an outfit a snowball’s throw from the Mighty Mississippi and a rail siding who couldn’t build lightweight if they tried. Seriously, the massive reinforcing on the back side of a Falls plow suggests it was designed for ramming snowbanks at full speed.

That’s the legend, the reality is becoming something else… Minnesota’s strange bipartisan coalition on highway underfunding where the democrats think we have to many roads and the republicans don’t want to spend money on them seems to have infected plowing too, and the tandem drive dump truck that used to push those Falls plows and ballast the secret weapon of ice control, the underframe plow, have been replaced by “cheap and cheerful” underpowered single drives. Thus a foot of “snowcrete” means wait for the loaders and any aging Oshkosh snowblowers that can still sorta move under their own power.

So no wonder that 48 hours ago every east-west interstate from Kansas to Canada was closed and some of them just reopened in the last few hours. Same story a couple weeks ago when I-90 across southern Minnesota was snowed under for two days, although some of that can be blamed on the too confident engineers who routed I-90 across the ridges rather than the through the valleys route of US-14 which followed the route of the Chicago&Northwestern, who probably followed the native americans. Suffice to say, the old truck drivers are still shaking their heads over that one…

So if this country still wants to be an industrial powerhouse we’d best invest in truck mounted snowblowers instead of waiting decades for Air Force hand me downs, loaders, big trucks, and skilled people to operate all of the above. Or better yet, put our freight and passengers on the railroads… BNSF’s Transcontinental Routes remained open through this blizzard, though the schedule was probably better used as kindling or TP. Heck, South Dakota was so desperate for supplies that CP could have probably sold out an intermodal train outa Chicago even though they have no intermodal yard in South Dakota! Unfortunately, CP’s too buy chasing away customers they only make 30% profits on to be bothered. That infectious profit maximization disease seems to be infecting every major railroad in America except BNSF, whose CEO Matt Rose is bullishly leading the railroad in chasing any freight that turns a profit.

BTW, Matt seems about to retire from BNSF, and would make a great DOT Secretary for the upcoming democratic president in 2021…

 

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